Do you do branding… I mean, identity design? Wait… logo design?
I’ve heard this question fumbled through over and over again. Most of the time when someone refers to their “brand” they are actually talking about their logo. Your brand, identity, and logo can be difficult to differentiate. I’m just as guilty as the next guy using them incorrectly at times, however… they are all different things. Hey, if the design nerd has done it, you don’t need to feel bad about using them wrong as well. So what exactly is a brand… and how is it different from a logo? Let’s see if we can make things a little bit clearer.
Brand? Logo? What’s the difference!?
Your brand is more than just your logo. It is much more than your website or business card. Your brand goes beyond all that. Your brand is what someone else says or feels, not what the brand itself says. Your logo, print collateral, website and whatever else you use to communicate or connect with people, should be used to convey or strengthen your brand. Here is how I break things down.
What is a logo?
Your logo is a distinguishable and distinctive mark, emblem or symbol that instantly identifies you or your business and helps you communicate and represent your brand to the world. A logo can be symbol or icon along with words or just a symbol. When a brand becomes successful or popular, their logo can be just the symbol (for example the Apple icon or NIKE swoosh).
It can also be a logotype logo that is just words, with no symbol…
A good logo will help your branding. It is a critical part of the identity system – which we will talk about next – and because many people are visual learners, your brand too. When people see your logo they begin to recognize its color, shape, and form and ideally the logo will become associated with the brand as a whole.
What is my identity?
Identity determines the ways the brand appears to your audiences. Identity – visual identity system, or brand identity system – is a collection of visual pieces used to communicate your brand, such as graphics, a color system, fonts and yes, a logo. This may or may not also include collateral such as stationery, brochures and signage, written content such as key messages and a positioning statement, and ideally a guideline on how to use all this stuff in a cohesive and consistent manner.
Your “image” can consist of…
A Logo (The symbol of the entire identity & brand)
Stationery (Letterhead, business card, envelopes, etc.)
Marketing Collateral (Flyers, brochures, books, websites, etc.)
Products & Packaging (Merchandise sold and the packaging in which it is in)
Apparel Design (Clothing items worn by employees)
Signage (Interior & exterior design)
Messages & Actions (Messages conveyed via indirect or direct means of communication)
Anything visual that represents the business.
Your brand is the biggest part of this picture. There are many definitions of what your brand is but the simplest one is: how people feel about you, your products, services or company. A brand is not just a logo and it is much more than your business card. Many people think a brand only consists of a few elements – some colors, fonts, logo, a maybe a slogan. However, it is much more complicated than that. People are emotional about brands, which makes it a difficult concept to define. These feelings are based on experiences brought on by your behavior. Everything you or your company does, owns and produces should reflect your values and goals. It is the consistency of this core idea that makes up the company, driving it, showing what it stands for, what it believes in and why they exist.
LOGO – Identifies a business in its simplest form using a mark or icon.
IDENTITY – Visual aspects that form part of the overall brand.
BRAND – Perceived emotional image as a whole.
Logo design, identity, and branding all have independent roles, that in combination, establish a perceived image for a business or product. Hopefully, this clears up the confusion. Now that you know what is what, how is your overall brand working? Are there things you can do to improve your overall image?