Brand: your logo is not your brand.
It had to happen. Sooner or later it had to be said. I’m not the first brand strategist to say this and I know I won’t be the last, however its always valuable to clear up common misconceptions in the industry: here’s the revelation: your logo is not your brand! Who would have thought?
Many clients are confused by this common misunderstanding – ‘wait a minute! At the end of the day my brand is my visual logo right?’ Wrong. Well, what else could it be? A logo is indeed a small part of your brand, however a logo is simply a mark or identifier for your brand i.e. – like an outer shell or the superficial, outward facing tangible part of your brand. Your brand, however, is the intangible essence, the belief, the core value and the intrinsic feeling that lies deeper, underneath the tangible visuals of your corporate identity and your logo. Confusing the two can lead to some severe strategic mistakes so it pays to get clear on the difference.
To clarify further, a logo is a subtle outward expression of your brand that helps customers identify your business and your brand amongst the many others competitors out there. A logo therefore helps to distinguish your business and brand in the market place.
Let’s take nothing away from the talented graphic designers of the world here (I‘m married to a graphic designer after all) – they are instrumental in creating beautiful marks or logos that attract, engage and help us to make easier choices in our busy everyday lives – do you fill up at Coles, 7 Eleven, BP, Shell, Liberty, Caltex or United? At the end of the day petrol is still petrol, yet BP is somehow ‘cleaner’ in our minds because of the design of the logo? Yes, people are indeed catching on. But know and understand this, a logo is not the be all and end all of your brand. A brand goes far deeper than that – and could explain why that ‘brand refresh’ never delivered the intended results because the refresh was literally too superficial! There was a disconnect between your values (which had changed) and the new logo (which didn’t reflect them).
Most clients ‘think’ they need a ‘new brand’, but on further exploration we discover they really want a new name, a new corporate identity or a new logo. These clients really want a new visual identity because the fundamental beliefs and values of their business have not changed.
Most businesses, when asking for a ‘new brand’, want the perception of their business to be modernised or refreshed in the minds of their customers through the development of a new logo. And herein lies the confusion.
A new ‘brand’ involves communication and realisation of new beliefs and values that will resonate with a new or evolving customer segment, usually as a result of an evolution in business thinking due to maturity or (painful) experience.
The key takeaway from this is to understand the difference between a brand and a logo. The terms are used so often in business that they have become interchangeable, yet they mean very distinct and different things to the uninitiated.
So remember, next time you see a well-known logo (or even an unfamiliar one), understand that it’s just an objective logo – a visual mark to attract your attention. Only when a logo appears with more brand elements (i.e. a corporate identity) does it begin to truly represent the core essence of a brand.
I hope you learned something new, insightful or useful from this blog.
As The Brand Entrepreneur, I believe in helping businesses build a ‘brand blueprint’ for business growth. I do this through a series of workshops designed to help businesses realise and communicate their ‘Why?’ Successful brands in the future care about customers, not branding. I believe that future is now. I’m passionate about creating brand stories & design assets that help brands get ‘in sync’ and connected to customers they care about.
BE on the look out for Brand New ‘Brand Entrepreneur’ Brand Workshops!
Jamie Thomas – The Brand Entrepreneur