With so many marketing buzzwords circulating the web, it’s sometimes hard to exactly comprehend some of the terms, especially when it comes to talking about corporate brand, identity and logo. These concepts apply to every business, no matter whether you’re a multi-million dollar corporation or a one-man show working from home.
A logo is not your brand, nor is it your identity. Logo design, identity design and branding all have different roles, that together, form a perceived image for a business or product. Here’s a little exploration into the differences in these concepts.
What is a logo?
To understand what a logo is, we must first understand what it is for.
A logo is for… identification.
A logo identifies a company or product via the use of a mark, flag, symbol or signature. A logo does not sell the company directly nor rarely does it describe a business. Logo’s derive their meaning from the quality of the thing it symbolises, not the other way around – logos are there to identity, not to explain. In a nutshell, what a logo means is more important than what it looks like.
People love a good logo so much that there are entire websites and books devoted to looking at them. The most popular ones are memorable, stylish and usually simple but don’t have to explain the company explicitly. For example, you will rarely (if never) see a bank with a picture of cash as its logo or a fast food restaurant with food in its logo.
What is identity design?
In most cases, identity design is based around the visual devices used within a company, usually assembled within a set of guidelines. These guidelines that make up an identity usually administer how the identity is applied throughout a variety of mediums, using approved colour palettes, fonts, layouts, measurements and so forth. These guidelines ensure that the identity of the company is kept coherent, which in turn, allows the brand as a whole, to be recognisable.
Amazingly, these things will reflect the company brand and need to be closely linked in style. For example, a children’s nursery might want to use uplifting colours with a fun, childlike typography. If they were to decide on a dark, gothic visual look, this would scare off potential families.
What is branding?
Branding can be quite an ambiguous term and is often confused with the logo and the identity. What it actually defines is the emotional relationship between customers and the business. The brand is dictated by the audience and how they see the company and this can be managed by the actions behind the words of the company.
Many people believe a brand only consists of a few elements – some colours, some fonts, a logo, a slogan and maybe some music added in too. In reality, it is much more complicated than that. You might say that a brand is a ‘corporate image’.
The fundamental idea and core concept behind having a ‘corporate image’ is that everything a company does, everything it owns and everything it produces should reflect the values and aims of the business as a whole. 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. It is not purely some colours, some typefaces, a logo and a slogan.
Think of it this way. A logo all by itself is just a graphic element with a name. A brand is the communications strategy that helps you communicate your passion and expertise.
When combined, a well-planned logo and a brand strategy help you effectively and efficiently reach your audience, communicate your message, your value, and benefits, and visually attract more attention.