Three words have never been more misunderstood: brand, identity, and logo. In this age of digital marketing, everyone is a “graphic designer”. You’ll hear these self-proclaimed experts offer to, “design your brand for you.” Let me be clear: You, nor any designer, can CREATE your brand.
Some people will have stoped reading at this point. They’ve left the page and are off to make their logo design in photoshop (some of you will get my humor). For those of you who have stayed with me, you are well on your way to brand enlightenment!
So, I’m sure your wondering, “If you can’t create a brand, than what is a brand?” What a wonderful question! A brand is the perception of a particular product or organization by the consumer. Let me further break that down: however your customer feels about what you provide, that is your brand. For those of you who are hearing this information for the first time, have you ever had a bad experience at a hotel or restaurant? How did that make you feel? Does that experience ultimate determine your relationship with that particular organization? Absolutely!
So, what can you do with a brand? Well, before I said that you can’t create it, and this is true. However, what you CAN do is manage perception. This is carried out by impacting the lives of the consumer in a positively profound way. Branding is not about pixels or pictures - it’s about people.
Notice that in my statements above I never once referred to a logo design or any other graphic entity. That’s because your brand is so much more than these expendable features. However, It’s always a good idea to create a brand identity that coveys your message. But, by “brand identity” I DON’T mean a logo. Your brand identity is so much more than a “rubber stamp”. Just because you utilize your logo dosn’t mean that you have a positive brand identity. In fact, if you have to use your logo for people to recognize your extensions, than you don’t have a brand identity at all. Brand identity is the visual representation of your brands personality, values, and voice.
Brand identity is about the colors you use, the fonts you choose, and everything your employees wear - even down to their shoes! It’s about the voice your company speaks in - the words you say and way you write. A few years back, Starbucks Corporation launches Christmas tumblers without the Starbucks logo imprinted. Instead, the tumblers spotted a hunter green dot. Starbucks brand identity is so strong that they can sell a product, one associated with their brand, without utilizing their logo! That is a positive brand identity.
Finally, we have the almighty logo! Now, don’t get me wrong, the logo is a vial part of the overall brand. This is usually the strongest part of your brand identity, and for good reason. Pact in this small text or image is the entire message of the brand, if designed properly of course.
Logo comes from the Greek word λόγος, most often meaning “word” or “message”. The best way that I know to express the use of a logo is to say, “It’s a word (or in many cases an image) that conveys a message. That message is the perception that you desire your consumers to receive. A logo then identities a company in its simplest form: a word or a mark.
So there you have it! Brand, brand identity, and logo all summed up in their respective context. It is vitally important that we understand the differences between each of these components. Each one is important in its own way. But some are more important than others. You can have a positive brand identity without a logo, you can have a positive brand without a brand identity, but you can’t have a positive brand without a positive brand perception. Understanding this reality will launch your company to the next level.
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