A logo and a company’s brand are completely different aspects of a company’s persona. Simply adding your logo to your company’s materials does not create a brand. If you devote all of your resources and energy to only creating a logo that you love, you are still missing many pieces of the much larger puzzle that make up your company’s brand. Read along to discover the key differences between a logo and brand, and why it’s important to have both.
What is Branding and what purpose does it serve?
What is often thought of as Branding is really made up of a few distinct parts. An easy way to think of a company’s Brand is to think of it as the company’s personality. It’s the way the company speaks and how serious or light-hearted their tone is. A brand is reminiscent of who that company interacts with, the type of products they create, and how they engage with their community. This “personality” is then shaped by the way an audience perceives these things.
You could define this concept another way by calling it a “corporate image.” The concept behind a corporate image is that everything that a company says, does, owns, or produces should reflect the values and goals of that business. This consistency is what drives a company forward and allows it to reach a specific audience. It is with this specific “voice” that a company can create a culture around them and develop a loyal “tribe” of followers.
Many people think of a brand as being made up of just a few visual elements. Often some colors, fonts, a logo, some photos and maybe some illustrations. But, these consistent choices are what is known as a company’s “identity.” When speaking with clients, I often refer to this as “Visual Branding.”
If a company’s “brand” can be compared to a personality — Then a company’s “identity” can be thought of as how the company visually expresses themselves. If your company was a person, this would be the types of clothes they wear, how they style their hair, how expressive they are when they speak or move, how “kept” or “un-kept” they present themselves, etc. A company’s well managed Identity involves consistent treatment of anything visual that represents that company.
With successful Identity Design, viewers would still be able to recognize materials as belonging to a specific company even if the logo was removed. Apple is a widely recognized company that does this extremely well. If I were to present you with a handful of items produced by Apple and I were to completely remove their logo mark, odds are that you would still have a pretty solid idea of who those materials relate to.
What is a Logo and why do I need one?
To truly understand what a logo is, we must first understand what a logo is for.
The purpose of a logo is for identification. Think of a logo as your company’s signature. A logo does not sell a company, product, or service directly and logos are rarely used to describe a company to its audience. A logo is used to identify something, not to explain it.
To continue the analogy of comparing a company to a person — Think of a logo as having the same purpose as a person’s name. When referred to by my name, Brandon, people who know me will right away think of their perception of me. They may have memories of past interactions that we have shared. I may have made them laugh at some point, or I may have upset them. In that context, simply hearing “Brandon” can evoke a very specific response.
If enough people that know me share similar experiences with one another, then a community will begin to form. The members of that community will have common perceptions and reactions to hearing my name. Based on how I interact with that community, I can guide those perceptions to reinforce my image to them.
Using my name is a much more effective way to identify me than trying to say, “the graphic design dude at my office who heats up Indian food several times a week and wears too many Star Wars t-shirts.” It’s true that the name of a company would serve the same purpose, but a logo serves as a visual representation of that name.
On its own, a logo doesn’t mean much. A logo doesn’t become meaningful until it is related to a brand and used in the real world. A logo only begins to function the way it was intended once it becomes familiar.
A successful logo will quickly identify materials or products as belonging to your company. For an established brand, a logo will trigger a response at a glance. In order to achieve that, a well-designed logo is easily recognizable and easily reproduced at many different sizes. Often, simplicity is key. A logo may or may not include a name (logo type) and/or a symbol (logo mark).
Great logos will elicit certain feelings or emotions from a viewer. They may also trigger some type of memory that a viewer relates to a specific brand. While a logo alone is not a brand, it is a valuable tool that represents a brand while quickly communicating that brand to a viewer.
So – which is more important?
The answer is neither. Companies that reach their audience well will have both. A strong and consistent brand is necessary to develop a following and to give an audience what they expect from a company. A logo is needed to quickly and easily identify a company to their audience. A logo does not live in a vacuum. Alone on a white piece of paper, a logo means nothing. But a logo is necessary to convey ideas and emotion quickly. A logo and a brand must work together in order to bring your company success.
If you need help with your next logo or branding project, look no further! Our experienced team of creative and design professionals are here to help your business develop a strong brand and an attractive logo.
I have over 10 years in design and identity development for businesses. I joined Hot Dog Marketing in 2013 as branding specialist focusing on new small business and start ups. I love my beer, my dog Brew, Batman and anything Lego.