What’s the difference between a brand, brand identity and a logo?
A brand is your reputation.
A Brand is essentially the relationship between your company and the public. A brand is not something you can inherently create. Instead, you earn and build it over time.
The word “brand” can be used to describe the public perception of your company — and a strong brand can lead directly to a customer choosing your product or service over others. One of the most positive things that you can do for your business is come up with a strategic plan that includes shaping your company’s mission, goals, and actions to promote a strong brand.
A brand identity is the combination of visual elements.
“Brand identity” is an umbrella term for all of the visual components that work together to form a visual system for your brand. Some elements of the brand identity might include (but are not limited to) name, color palette, typography, packaging, collateral, messaging, iconography, and of course, your logo. Building a strong, cohesive brand identity is one of the ways you can support and positively impact your brand. However, before you can effectively design your brand identity, you must first understand your mission, goals, and audience.
A logo is the key visual identifier of your brand.
Your logo is the cornerstone of your brand identity and often the first element that’s designed. It should clearly communicate who you are as a brand. It is the simplest form of your identity that contributes to the overall experience of your brand. The logo can take many forms, and you may commonly hear these terms defining the logo further: identity, logomark, brandmark, wordmark, logotype, monogram, lettermark, emblem, or combination mark. We’re working on a separate post that goes over what all these terms mean (but feel free to Google in the meantime).
A logo is only one part of your brand identity. Your brand identity is comprised of many components — all of which contribute to the public perception of your brand.
What’s the benefit of brand identity beyond the logo?
So your designer buddy created you a slick new logo. You’re ready for business, right? Hmm, well, not exactly. Though having a logo designed for your business is a good, logical first step in presenting your brand to the public, there’s still work to be done. Standing alone, your logo can’t provide enough contextual meaning to your brand. It’s how you use the logo that will ultimately provide value to your business. In many ways, designing a logo without the other supporting elements of the brand identity can ultimately lead to a disjointed brand image. Only with the support of other critical elements will your logo begin to build a positive brand image.
It’s been said that we might consider a logo as the tip of the iceberg, so-to-speak. Only the tip of the iceberg is revealed above water, but the rest of the enormous block of ice lives below the water’s surface. The tip, supported by the rest of the iceberg, simply lets us know that it’s there.
Start with more than the logo.
If you want to start designing a “look” for your brand that extends beyond the logo, consider getting the ball rolling with other key materials. Being able to review a variety of designed “deliverables” side by side allows you to start building an intentional system rather than a piecemeal collection of projects.
Though needs vary by client, most people find that having a consistent business-card and stationery design is a good first step toward building visual continuity.
Taking it a step further, it’s beneficial to document this established system in a “style guide.” A style guide is a reference document that defines and details your brand identity system. This comprehensive brand guide (as it’s also called) should help any design professional stay “on brand” while applying your brand image to future materials.
At the end of the day, investing in a comprehensive brand identity that promotes visual consistency will help build credibility and value for your brand. It says, “Hey, I’m a professional and I care how you view my company!” (In an appropriate tone, of course.)
What should my brand identity cover?
Here are some common elements of brand identities. As you can tell, there’s a lot to consider as you position your brand visually, but this is a good place to start. In Part II of this post we will explore a recent project that went through the Brand Identity process. Stay Tuned.
1. Design Visual Identity
- Lockups (i.e. layout variations)
- Color Palette
- Type Examples
- Graphic Elements
- Texture and/or Patterns
- Image and/or Photographic Styling
2. Define Messaging
- Tone / Voice
3. Design Brand Applications
- Business Cards
- Social Media
- Other Collateral
4. Document Brand Style Guide
Ready to take the next step?
Let’s talk more about building your brand with a comprehensive brand identity.