There’s a longtime misconception that logo design and branding are one in the same thing. Often people use one term interchangeably, and more often than not – people use the term “brand” when referencing a logo.
So, is a logo a brand, and what’s the difference between logo design and branding? To answer that, we need to establish what a brand and logo are, as core concepts.
Logo design at its core, is the process of designing a logo. Branding on the other hand, is the process to build a brand. As you may or may not know, these are inherently different from one another. So, lets first define what a logo and brand are.
What is a Logo?
A logo is a graphical mark, text, and/or symbol used to identify, promote, or recognize a product, public or private business, or company. A logo helps to distinguish (in part) a brand from competitors. Ultimately a logo is usually a mix of typography, shapes, symbols and colors, used to identify a brand – which makes up part of a brands’ visual identity. As famous logo designer Paul Rand once stated: “a logo does not sell, it identifies“
Apple logo as example:
Apples logo is probably one of the most famous logos today. Perhaps following closely behind would be ASUS and Dell. When most people think of an expensive tech product for personal and professional use, they think of Apple. I’m sure most of you reading this would imagine the logo before a particular product, and that’s the recognition and recallability of a solid brand with a powerful, well designed logo. Interested in the history of the Apple logo?
What is a brand?
A brand is what people think of a company. It’s the idea or thought in peoples’ minds when thinking about products and services, to what articles and media say about them. A brand includes a logo, business cards, website, social media, and anything else that people will use to discover and interact with a company. A brand also consists of the business reputation, influenced by values and actions of the company. A brand is made up many things. Not to confuse this with Branding. Branding would be the conscious effort to influence the perception of a business. This is done with brand identity design.
Apple brand example:
What’s the difference between logo design and branding?
Logo design is simply the process of designing a logo. Though the professional process itself, can be far from simple.
Branding is the process of building and creating a brand. Specifically, branding is the strategy. A brands’ strategy will differ greatly from one brand to the next, but all have clear intent and goals.
There’s typically a minimum amount of brand collateral a brand will use. This may cover a multitude of digital and print assets, along with a company website, and more. Before a brand can begin to be successfully established, it usually needs to have a few things first. These would be things like:
- Brand statement: Why the brand exists and it’s purpose
- Brand positioning statements: who the brand is for and why
- Brand core identity: name, principles, values, identity design and logo
- Pricing strategy
- Customer experience/service
- Adverts and communications: social media, TV, magazines, mailer ads etc…
This is just a short list of elements which would begin to make a cohesive and strong brand. However, implementation and consistency play key roles in the overall brand too. So, as you can see – logo design is one of the tools used to help create a foundation for a brands’ visual identity. A good logo/brand designer will get to the “why” for your business, product or service. Then help set a foundation to build a brand upon.
What’s so important about a logo for a brand?
Though a logo is just one element of an entire brand or branding project, it’s more than likely to appear on all, or most business collateral. Think about the places you see your favorite brands’ logo. From websites, packaging, shirts, and apparel. To corporate letterheads, invoices, business cards, and more. This can determine things like project cost and turnaround time for logo design also. However, there’s more to the price of a logo than just those considerations.
A logo is one of the main graphical elements which make up a brands’ identity. It helps people quicky identify a company, product, service, etc… More often than not, a logo is the first thing people will see and use to identify a brand.
Here are some additional factors that a well designed logo brings to a brand:
- A well designed logo allows people to: quickly identify a brand, product or service, etc…
- Helps create consistency: by using the logo on a multitude of touchpoints, and instils additional trust and brand recognition.
- Makes up part of your brand identity: by being designed with your brand purpose, mission and goals in mind – the logo helps make up part of your visual identity, and plays a large role in establishing a cohesive brands’ visual identity.
- Exudes a professional image: and raises the bar of expectations. Good logo design will differentiate brands from competitors. Relevant logo design will also show your brand in a light not too dissimilar from competitors.
- Connect on an emotional level: by simply seeing a logo, it should be able to trigger and reinforce certain emotions and feelings for an established brand.
As you can see, there’s potential in a logo to provide copious value to a business’ brand.
Is a logo a brand? No, a logo itself is a graphical element that’s used to represent a brand. While a brand is a combination of visual elements and tangible goods. These goods represent a business, organization, product or service. Without a brand behind the logo, a logo would have no real use or value. It would simply be a graphic with nothing to represent.
When logo and brand strategy are combined, they can help a business or organization reach the right audience in effective and brand coherent way. Additionally, this helps establish a business or organization as a leading brand. A brand takes time to build. It’s not a set it and forget it kind of deal. Once established, a brand must work at maintaining its brand image. It’s important not to underestimate the power and value of a well deigned logo and brand. Logo design and brand identity design are an investment in your business, product and/or service.