Is Your Logo Design Your Brand?
Is your logo design your brand? No. As much as we think a logo is your brand it’s actually just a small part of your brand.
As a branding agency we get a lot of inquiries for logo design, and while we love designing logos we also have to get to the root of what the clients really needs and 9 times out of 10 they are wanting a brand design, not a logo. There have been some rare inquires for logo designs for groups of friends or just for fun ideas… in the case where commerce is not the goal, it’s okay to just do a logo. But if you are a business, you most likely need a brand and not a logo.
Brand is kind of an enigma. And it might sound fluffy or made up to some people. Like a smoke and mirrors service that is just a way to upsell a logo design. Other people understand the importance right off the bat and don’t need an explanation. Either way, we like to educate so here’s an explanation of the difference between a logo and a brand!
First off what is a logo design?
A logo design is for identification, not communication. Those are golden words said by Sagi Haviv, a parter at branding agency Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv in New York. Your logo is just the identifier. It’s like writing your initials on your lunch box at school. It’s a way of showing, “Hey, that is mine.” Logos have been used since the beginning of humanity to identify tribes, locations, and even livestock. Think of the symbols ranchers use to brand their cattle… it’s really just a logo, and if the cows get mixed up on the pasture, it’s a way of saying, “That is my cow.” Read more about the history of logo design here.
So what is a brand?
Well, a brand is what is going to communicate what you are about to the world. While the logo is doing the identifying work, the brand is doing all the communication.
I would like to invite you to answer the following questions…
Which cleanser is more expensive?
Which energy drink is stronger? And which is healthier?
Which lawyer would you trust more to get you out of jail?…
Now chances are you answered right, left, right and left…
But did you notice each one had the same logo? So if the logo didn’t change, what told you they were more expensive, stronger, healthier or more equip?
That was the brand doing the communication.
Brand as a person
If you know me, you know I love analogies and hate fluffy stuff. Analogies make things real and relatable so here is my analogy on brand as a person.
Thinking of your brand as if we were designing a person… you would start by defining the person’s brain… you will want to know how they think, how they act, what drives them, right? I call that the brand strategy. The strategy is what will connect your brand to your ideal client.
Once you know how they think and what makes them tick, you can move outward and start to design the appearance… this would be how they look, dress, wear their hair. This step would be the brand identity. Included in that identity would be a face for our person… the face is the logo. It’s the identifier!
Imagine you are meeting up with a group of friends for dinner on a Friday and then again on Sunday for brunch, everyone’s outfits will change, but their face of course stays the same, that is how you know who is who.
And while their outfits changed, their style did not, that is your brand identity, it can morph for occasions but at the end of the day is still your “look”. And their demeanor, and personality, like their face, is always the same! That is your brand strategy coming through. It’s a way of saying here I am, this is what I stand for.
So once you put the brand strategy, brand identity, and logo altogether, you get a brand, or a whole person if you will!
I love using this comparison because it also fits how a brand should evolve… Remember, your brand (your person), is ALWAYS the same person. We don’t ever get to change that. Your mom is always going to be your mom, but I bet your mom when she was a single lady in her 20’s might be a bit different from the mom she is to you in her 70’s. She has grown and evolved, but she is still the same person. She didn’t get a new brain or face… she has just evolved.
Your Brand Needs to Evolve
Your brand needs to do the same! If you think of our brains (our brand strategy), we are always learning, developing, and growing mentally, our brand strategy should do the same. We need to check in with the strategy every few years and see how we can improve or reconnect with our target audience.
For the brand identity, this one is an easy one… you update your look to fit the times. You don’t get a whole new look, but an update. For instance, I wouldn’t go from my basic blue jean and flip flop wearing self to all of a sudden dressing in stiletto heels and cocktail dresses every day (that is not me), but as the trends change I definitely retired my super low rise jeans for a pair of high waisted. That is an update. If I was evolving from the 70’s to the 80’s it might have been flairs to acid wash… but I am still wearing blue jeans.
It’s necessary to update our looks to fit the times. If we didn’t do these updates we would end up as an outdated brand. I encourage brands to do an audit on their brand identity every 5 years and see what needs adjusting, what current trends could they implement (don’t ever do something just because it’s trendy), but if it fits your brand, give it a go! Another fashion example, tube tops are making a come back… just because they are in style, I will not be wearing one… why? Because I am not 15 anymore and that is not ME.
Now To The Logo!!
Your face! When is the last time you saw someone get a new face?? Lol maybe in the movie Face-Off with Nicolas Cage and John Travolta? We don’t go through life getting new faces like we get new outfits. Your brand doesn’t get to get a new logo every 5 years… but with that being said, you can get a little botox or a little facelift from time to time!
Big brands are always evolving their logo and evaluating. Coca Cola looks at their logo every 7 years and while we, as consumers might not notice they do make subtle adjustments to improve on the iconic script wordmark. If you look at their original logo to today’s you can see it has been updated.
Or Subway just got a nice facelift by Turner Duckworth. Notice how it still looks like Subway but it’s new and fresh? That is okay! Imagine they changed their logo to badge style using red and blue instead of green and yellow? You would no longer know that was Subway, that would be your same friend, with a new face, and let’s be honest, you would be freaked out if your friend showed up for Sunday brunch with a new face. You wouldn’t know it was them, just like Subway with a new logo, you wouldn’t know it was the same Subway. But instead, you are delighted with a fresh typography update and a slight tweak of color, they got a facelift and new outfit.
Notice below how Subway has evolved over the years? But they are still using the gold color and still using a word mark logo with arrows pointing to the left and the right. They kept the “idea” the same.
Read more about the Subway logo here.
Now… there is one caveat to my “no new logo, no new face” theory… IF you totally boot-strapped it when you were starting (which is totally okay), and you DIY’d your logo or had your cousins, friends, a co-worker who dabbles with adobe illustrator help you out, you deserve to get a new face! We encourage all businesses to get a proper brand designed for them as soon as they can afford it! That means investing a minimum of 5K into your business and create your brand person! If you notice in this article, most legacy brands went through some growing pains in the juvenile stages of their business. You will see new logos happening until they got it right… then they stuck with it!
Think of someone in High school, they are figuring out who they are in the world. Maybe they are dressing like a punk rocker as a freshman and by the time they graduate they’re fitting in with the chess club. Who knew! Those are normal growing pains in life and branding. But the idea is, once we know who we are, we stick with it.
So, is your Logo your Brand?
Now you know, no. It’s what identifies your brand as your brand. It is the face of your person or brand! Logo = Identification, Brand = Communication.
We know, that was a lot! If you have questions about branding or would like us to do a brand audit please reach out! We would love to help!