Logo design, identity design, and branding all have different roles, but together, they make up a company’s perceived image. Several discussions have recently been taking place on the web about your logo not being your brand. While this may be true, I have not found any clarification regarding the differences between ‘brand,’ ‘identity,’ and ‘logo.’ That is something I wish to rectify.
What is the brand? – The perceived emotional corporate image as a whole.
What is identity? – The visual aspects that form part of the overall brand.
What is a logo? – A logo identifies a business in its simplest form via the use of a mark or icon.
Let’s start with the brand to explain this in more detail.
WHAT IS BRANDING?
Branding is certainly not a light topic. In addition to hundreds of books devoted to this subject, to put it in a nutshell, a brand can be defined as an organization, a service, or a product that has a character that is shaped by the audience. In that vein, it should be stated that a designer cannot “create” a brand – only audiences can do that. A designer serves as the foundation of a brand.
Brands often consist of just a few elements – a logo, a slogan, and maybe some colors. You could argue that it is a ‘corporate image.’ as a matter of fact, it is much more complex than that.
A company’s ‘corporate image’ reflects its values and objectives. Its actions, possessions, and products should be consistently consistent with these values and goals. In essence, the company stands for, believes in, and demonstrates its core values through the exact consistency of its image. It goes beyond some colors, some typefaces, a logo, and a slogan.
Let’s take a look at the well-known IT company Apple as an example. Apple as a company exemplifies a humanistic corporate culture and a commitment to community involvement & volunteerism. From their latest products to their advertising, to all aspects of their customer service, the company’s values are evident. It’s a remarkably humanist brand when it comes to connecting with its audience. When people buy their products or use their services, they feel part of it, even like a tribe. Their brand is not solely defined by the products they offer and a bite-sized logo, but rather by this emotional connection.
WHAT IS IDENTITY DESIGN?
The identity of a company plays a significant role in the ‘brand’ or ‘corporate image’ of a company.
Identity design tends to be shaped by the visual tools used within a business, generally assembled within specific guidelines. As part of an identity, guidelines are often used to govern how the brand is applied across various media, including color palettes, fonts, layouts, and measurements.
By following these guidelines, we ensure that the company’s identity is kept consistent, which allows the brand as a whole to be recognizable.
Among the visual devices that create a company’s identity are:
- A Logo (The symbol of the entire identity & brand)
- Stationery (Letterhead + business card + envelopes, etc.)
- Marketing Collateral (Flyers, brochures, books, websites, etc.)
- Products & Packaging (Products sold and the packaging in which they come in)
- Apparel Design (Tangible clothing items that are worn by employees)
- Signage (Interior & exterior design)
- Messages & Actions (Messages conveyed via indirect or direct modes of communication)
- Other Communication (Audio, smell, touch, etc.)
- Anything visual that represents the business.
These elements are all essential to a brand’s identity and should be integrated together. Logos, however, combine corporate identity and brand into one mark that identifies all aspects of the business. They are the business’s avatar and visible symbol.
WHAT IS A LOGO?
Identifying a logo requires first understanding the purpose for which it is used.
A logo is for… identification.
Basically, a logo is a mark, flag, symbol, or signature used to identify a company or product. Logos do not directly sell a company’s products or services, nor do they describe a business.
Likewise, logos derive their meaning mainly from the qualities of the symbol they represent, not the other way around. Since they serve to identify, not to explain, it is more important to know what the logo represents.
Consider how people are like logos to illustrate this point. It is more convenient to call us by our names – Peter, Monica, John – rather than by confusing and forgettable descriptions such as “the guy with black hair who always wears blue.” In the same way, a logo shouldn’t describe the business’s purpose directly but rather should be recognizable and memorable enough for customers to identify the business.
Similarly, only after learning people’s names can we identify them since a logo functions best when it has become familiar.
An iconic logo can be considered the simplest form of identification of a business or product.
Brand –The perceived emotional corporate image as a whole.
Identity: The visual aspects that form part of the overall brand.
Logo: Identifies a business in its simplest form via the use of a mark or icon.
What do brand, identity, and logo design mean to you? Please feel free to comment or share your thoughts.