There is a lot of confusion about these terms, and what they mean. They often came together as being one and the same. However, there are clear distinctions between them.
And, to develop a cohesive brand, it’s important to understand the differences and how each supports the bigger brand picture.
What is a Logo?
A logo at its most basic is simply an icon, written text, or both that tells people your brand name and what your business does.
In the grand scheme of things, a logo is important; it’s a key part of a brand’s identity, it helps build brand recognition, and it can convey elements of your brand’s personality and value.
However, a logo on its own is not your brand.
Many people use logo and brand interchangeably, but this is wrong. Your logo design is only one part of your brand identity.
What is a Brand?
Brands are a collection of perceptions, feelings, and ideas consumers have about a specific company. Organizations and professionals work hard to present a specific image to the world both directly and indirectly. Your brand is a function of your branding efforts and how consumers receive these efforts.
Brands crystalize over time as their actions and practices become the norm. More evident values are easier for consumers to absorb and share with others. Nike is viewed as a high-quality, fashionable fitness brand. The company has worked hard to sell the best products they can and have positioned themselves at the forefront of several trends. As a result, Nike’s brand matches the image they work hard to convey.
It’s important to remember that brands aren’t instantaneous and can’t be forced. Companies must earn their reputations by being consistent, always projecting the same appearance to the world, and most importantly, maintaining their audiences’ trust.
What is Branding?
While brands are formed over time by consumers’ perceptions, companies can help this process along. Branding refers to all the actions organizations take to build the image they want consumers to notice. Unlike a brand, branding is an active process and encompasses both activities and decisions that affect how a company’s identity develops.
Branding covers the most basic elements of a company’s identity, starting with the values an organization stands for. The process includes logo design, color palettes chosen, and the way this brand mark is deployed. Additionally, it covers a company’s voice—how it communicates with consumers, the words they use, and the tone they take when ‘speaking’.
On a larger scale, branding also includes the way advertising and marketing materials are designed, how they’re deployed, and where they’re presented. Essentially, branding is an umbrella concept that covers how you build a brand. It includes all the touch points you create to build an identity that is both memorable and cohesive.
What is Brand Identity?
When you begin the branding process, what you’re attempting to create is an identity. This is the way you want the world to see you, and includes all the concepts we’ve covered before, from logos to branding. A brand identity is the result of a consistent branding strategy and includes all the touch points your company uses to express your company values and image.
Brand identities encompass a variety of items that serve a unique purpose. These are some of the most important aspects of your brand identity:
- Your logo – The most outward visual representation of your brand and company identity
- Business materials – This includes letterheads, business presentations, business cards, and materials you share with corporate partners or clients
- Non-visual communications – Items such as radio ads and similar audio communications, tactile displays, and other interactive materials
- Messaging – The more direct ways you communicate with your audience, either directly or indirectly
- Marketing materials – Your marketing strategy will include visual materials such as books, your website, brochures, and flyers
- Product packaging – When someone buys your products, it’s important to consider how the packaging and design fit with your brand image
- Signage – This refers to both interior and exterior design of your company’s look and physical locations
As you can see, logos, brands, branding, and your brand identity are all unique aspects of a bigger picture.
Your brand identity and how it’s perceived by others is the culmination of all the things you do as a company and business.
While your brand is the result of arduous work and your consumers’ perceptions, knowing how to use the different branding tools available to you will help you create a company image that will help your business and resonate with audiences.