Some time ago, we met a couple of enthusiastic young entrepreneurs that had an aspiring business plan to open a daycare learning academy for little “geniuses.” The top-notch facilities to attract parents who would be willing to pay top dollar for their children to be educated, entertained and fed organic-only healthy meals.
As many new start-ups, they were obviously on a tight budget. When the cost of branding identity package came up, they started “screaming” that they “ain’t Starbucks and need no branding”. “All we need is a logo and a website,” they said! After about an hour of consulting time, explaining why strong branding identity and the message is crucial to the services they are planning to offer and the audience they are eager to attract, we agreed to disagree.
Many business owners with the same attitude came to us since then; some were converted, some moved on. There is a constant ongoing discussion online about the topic of the logo not being your brand. Even though this may be true, there aren’t any clear explanations for the differences between ‘brand’, ‘identity’ and ‘logo’. Let’s discuss!
A logo is not a brand; it’s not your brand identity either. Logo design, identity design, and branding all have different roles that together form a perceived image of a business or product.
What is a brand? – The brand is the sum of all information about a product, service, or company that is conveyed through communications and consumer experience. It creates an associative
and emotional connection or a perceived corporate image, between the entity and its stakeholders.
What is a brand identity? – The visual characteristics, messages, and channels that become a part of the total brand package.
What is a logo? – A logo is a mark, symbol or an icon that identifies a business in its simplest form.
Let’s discuss these in detail starting with branding.
What branding is not?
Many publications and a variety of books have been written on this subject. However, many people still consider some colours, fonts, a logo, a catchphrase, music, etc. are the few elements that make up a brand. In reality, it is much more complex than that.
A brand is NOT:
- Public Relations
A brand is an organization, service or product’s personality, an attitude, a perception shaped by its audience. A designer doesn’t make a brand; people do! A designer/marketing expert creates the foundation for the brand. Whether it’s solid or shaky, depends on the marketing expert and how well he/she understands a product or service and its intended audience.
The brand is a cohesive story of smart decisions you make to maximise the value for your audience. It is as rational as it is emotional.
A brand is the sum of:
- Track Record
Having a brand matter to your company because you need to be trusted, whether you sell coffee or planning to run a daycare, trust is essential. As it is tough to sell trust directly: your brand can be that foundation to build the components of trust.
A brand is a demand driver! Strong brands generate high demand! Do you need examples? We did not think so!
The essential idea and fundamental concept of having a ‘corporate brand image’ are that everything a company does, everything it stands for and everything it creates should reflect its values, vision, and mission as a whole. It is the uniformity of this principal notion that makes up the brand, driving it, showing what it represents, what it believes in and why it exists. It is not merely some colours, typefaces, a logo and a jingle.
Let’s look at the well-known coffee company, Starbucks, as an example. Starbucks projects a humanistic communal culture and extraordinary corporate ethics, branded by volunteerism, funding of good causes & connection with the community. These values of the business are apparent in everything they do, from quality products and sophisticated advertising, right through to their outstanding customer service and cleanliness of their stores. Starbucks is an emotionally humanist brand that associates with people – when people purchase or consume their coffee and snacks; they feel part of the brand, they love being part of the “clan”. It is this emotional association that creates their brand – not purely their goods and a green siren logo (which they put on everything!).
What is identity design?
Identity design plays a significant role in the ‘brand’ or ‘corporate image’ of a company.
Identity design is shaped by the visual elements used within a corporation, usually utilized within a set of guiding principles. These guidelines make up an identity and usually administer how the identity is applied throughout a variety of communication channels, using approved colour palettes, fonts, layouts, measurements, proportions and so forth. These guidelines ensure that the identity of the company is retained consistent, which in return, lets the brand become recognizable.
The brand identity or ‘image’ of business is made up of many visual elements, which support the brand as a whole:
- A Logo
- Marketing Collateral
- Products & Packaging
- Apparel Design
- Messages & Actions
- Other Communication
What is a logo?
The logo, however, is the company identity and brand all wrapped up into one identifiable symbol, the mark, the avatar of the business.
A logo serves as identification; it does not sell the establishment directly nor does it explain what a company does. Logos originate their meaning from the quality of the offer it represents, not the other way around – logos exist to identify, not to explain. They must identify companies in a way that is recognizable and memorable. Remember that it must become familiar first before it functions the way it is intended to.
If you are inspired to build a business that projects trust and professionalism, converts curious into clients and creates demand, absolutely, invest in your brand identity and keep building the brand by developing the strong emotional connection with your audience.