A business owner once said to me:
“I thought my logo was my identity was my brand. What’s the difference and why should I care?”
It turns out, my reply surprised them. So I decided to write a few blog posts on the terms to hopefully enlighten more business owners who are just starting out or have been at it a few years and are thinking of repositioning.
In this post, I’ll discussed the finer points of logos. In the next post, I’ll break down brand identity. And in a future post, I’ll talk about brand and branding. For each, I’ll show examples of projects I’ve completed for my clients, to help reinforce my points. Let’s get started!
A logo is a mark
that identifies a business
in the marketplace
in contrast to its competitors.
But a logo is not a brand
or even a brand’s identity.
Yet logos are the most important part of a brand’s visual identity. And they can also have a strong influence on the brand’s perception. Confusing, right? I’ll talk more in depth about “brand” and “brand identity” in other posts. For now, let’s focus on logos and what makes them effective and not so much.
Effective logos embody
the spirit of a business.
To do that, they need to be built on objective and meaningful facts. This is done by deeply understanding the business, its customers, and competitors, so the result is original and unique.
A logo based only on aesthetic preferences, cultural trends, or competitiors, lacks integrity, substance, and sustainability.
Example of a Logo’s Anatomy:
How do you judge the effectiveness of a logo if there is no hard data (like website traffic analytics) to base it on? Well, just like ancient Greek architecture, following tried-and-true construction principles consistently makes a strong foundation, whether for a building or brand identity. Ironically, the term logo, is Greek for “word”. So it’s clear this culture knows what they’re talking about.
And while expectations should always be that logos are aesthetically pleasing, beauty is subjective. So it’s important to first meet objective standards to resolve any weaknesses or contradictions, in order to determine real value and success. Principles like:
Effective logos are
flexible and adaptable.
Logos should always work in one color, first, and scale to any size without distortion. Good logos also do not follow design or cultural trends, so they are never out of date, as long as they align with the spirit and mission of the business.
Logos love family.
It would be a sad existance if we had to go through life alone. Our family, friends, history, and location all play a part in shaping who we are and determining our level of satisfaction. Without that knowledge and support, we’d feel quite lonely and inferior. Same goes for logos. A logo can and should stand on its own, but it should do so with the support of its family.
The “family” is formally known as a visual identity system or brand identity. It consists of colors, fonts, shapes, and messages that are all related but take direction from the logo. The relatives help reinforce each other when used in a larger context, such as retail interiors or annual reports.
But unlike a human family, a brand identity has the best opportunity for growth when developed as a system (instead of piece by piece), in order to anticipate and account for future needs and fluid mechanics among all the parts.
I’ll talk more about brand identity systems and the concept of “brand” in future posts, so stay in the groove by signing up for the Phonographik newsletter!
Does your business need a logo? Does your logo need a family?
If you’re starting a new business or need to breathe new life into an old brand, let’s talk.