I have been in the design and marketing business for over twenty years. Things change rapidly in this market; design trends come and go, new forms of communication and promotion are created and what was once cool becomes dated and clichéd (such as the word cool…) However, one thing that has followed me throughout the many years I have been in this business is the misconception by some, that a logo is the same as a brand.
To put it simply, it it’s not. A logo is certainly an integral part of a brand, but a logo on its own is far from being one. A brand is so much more.
Think of a brand as all of the experiences, perceptions, impressions, and knowledge the public has about a product, service, or organisation; it is the emotion it elicits in people. A brand refers to the actual and perceived benefits the product in question provides. It will define its position in the market and hopefully will enhance and effectively communicate its unique selling points to its audience.
A logo is the visual representation of a brand. An effective logo will encapsulate as much as possible of a brand in a graphic or typographic form, but it would be impossible to represent everything a brand is within a logo. A logo is a brand asset and a very important differentiator, but a brand is meant to do much more than that.
Many will create a logo as an aesthetic exercise and later try to shoehorn strategy and meaning onto it. But a logo should not be designed independently from the development of a brand. A brand is both abstract and tangible. It should lay the foundations for a product’s marketing network and create an emotional and psychological relationship between the consumers and the product on offer. A brand will comprise elements such as tone of voice, brand idea, vision, purpose and promise as well as core brand attributes and many other elements that will define how stakeholders (internal and external) interact and perceive a company, product or service. It will include an identity, which in itself will be made of multiple touchpoints, such as websites, brochures, signs on buildings, etc. (the list can go on ad infinitum).
A well-executed brand will specify parameters so that all its elements are expressed with consistency throughout, ensuring that not only your logo, but all other brand elements gain equity in its intended market. A product that has a successful brand behind it will be able to produce touchpoints that will convey the company’s essence at a glance, even if you don’t see a logo in full, or hear or read the company’s name. A brand understands a product, where it comes from, who it’s intended for and hopefully what it aspires to be, and successfully conveys that to the public. A brand requires research and creativity and will ultimately guide the design of a logo.
As audiences become more sophisticated, a logo alone will no longer suffice. Consumers expect not only products but experiences, and experiences are delivered by brands not logos.