Is a Logo Design the Same as a Brand Identity?
If you’re getting ready to launch a startup or new small business venture, you know how many decisions need to be made.
Just the details about what you’ll offer and who your target audience is can cover much ground; add in backing, budgeting, staffing, and other necessities, and it’s easy to feel like you’ve got all the basics covered.
After all, you’ve done so much work before the company is even up and running!
But there’s another aspect that requires your attention — branding.
“Oh, that’s okay,” you might say. “I’ve got that sorted out — my logo design is all ready to go.”
But what if there’s more to it than that?
Is logo design the same thing as a brand identity? And why is it important to know?
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Why You Need To Know
Logos are primarily considered to be the hallmark of a brand. They’re the primary identifier, and they’re often the first encounter that a new customer has with your brand.
So if you already have a logo design, does it really matter whether logo and brand identity are separate entities?
The quick answer is yes; it does — and the reason why has to do with branding.
Branding is more than just the visuals attached to your company, and I’ll get into that more a little later in this article.
Branding is the whole experience that your customer has with your company, from the first time that they come across your name to the follow-up after they’ve bought a product or service — and beyond.
Branding is about defining your company as a person and growing its interactions with others to grow your business.
Even more than the services or products you provide, your branding is what sets you apart from the competition.
So individual aspects of branding — like logo design and brand identity — are vital components that impact how effectively your branding does its job.
Begin At The Beginning — Defining Your Brand
Before you can move on to those individual components, you have to establish the personality behind your brand.
This includes long-term goals and motivation, your target audience and how you will interact with them, and the “personality traits” that make your brand unique and complete.
It’s essential to have this basis for building because all aspects of logo design and brand identity design will tie back into their personality.
Think of your brand as a person and the logo and brand identity as the clothing style. The individual comes first, and then the visuals.
Establishing your brand personality is a whole project on its own, and hopefully, you’ve already put the work into it by the time you get to the point of deciding on visual aspects.
How To Define A Logo
If you were asked to define a logo, what would you say?
You might say something along the lines of, “It’s the graphic that goes on a business card,” or “It’s the icon on Product packaging,” or “It’s the name on the sign above the building.”
And you’d technically be correct, but there’s more to it than that.
Logos come in all shapes and sizes, styles and moods, colours and trends. They can include font or exclude it, centre on a graphic or use a shape, be readily identifiable as a real-world object or be abstract — the possibilities are endless.
The main point is to condense the brand into a single identifiable point: a name tag, a calling card, and the ambassador for the brand.
If a brand is an iceberg, the logo is the very tip. It may be the most visible part of the iceberg, but it makes up only a tiny part of the whole.
That doesn’t make it any less critical, however. Around 75 per cent of consumers will recognise a company primarily by its logo, and 50 per cent are more likely to buy from a company if they recognise the logo.
Logos can heavily impact the success of a company.
But how does brand identity come into it?
How To Define Brand Identity
Brand identity is defined as the visual system that makes up the aesthetic part of a brand. Anything that requires graphic design, more or less, fits into the brand identity in some way or another.
Brand identity includes, but isn’t limited to:
- Branding style guide, including selected colours, fonts, and styles
- The aesthetics of your website design and user interfaces
- Product packaging
Brand identity is necessary for any company because it outlines and regulates how the company communicates with the target audience.
I mentioned that branding is about communication and reputation as a whole; Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, famously said,
“Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
Brand identity follows that pattern but is more centred on the art of visual communication — what your brand is saying to your audience when you’re not actively communicating in words.
The abstract nature of this is why brand identity requires forethought and careful consideration. Every detail of your brand visuals can send a message and impact your audience for better or worse.
Colour is an excellent example of this and a potent element of branding.
The psychology of colour choice can help you choose colours that are more likely to appeal to your target audience and intrinsically help your brand grow by reaching the right people.
So, in the end, your logo design is undoubtedly part of your brand identity — but the two are not interchangeable.
Your logo is the cover of the book, and your brand identity is the content inside. They’re closely connected, but not the same thing.
Logo Vs. Brand Identity — Defining The Difference
However, that doesn’t mean that they should be considered entirely separately from each other.
Even though they are two different things, both your logo design and your brand identity still should be created in a way that works together harmoniously for the good of your brand as a whole.
This is something to be aware of when it comes to developing your logo design.
There are so many options for graphic design — ranging anywhere from hiring a bespoke graphic designer specifically for your brand to custom design your company logo from a variety of design dispositions.
But it’s important to remember that your logo design is part of your brand identity; some would argue it is the central part!
So if choosing a separate designer to work on your logo design, make sure that they are conversant with your brand identity on a more significant level and can create something that fits the rest of your visuals.
How Does Your Brand Identity Affect Your Logo Design?
The brand identity encompasses every detail that must be decided when creating visuals for your company.
Of course, this includes things like font and colour choice — but emotion, mood, and messaging also plays a part in whether visual designs are “on-brand” or not.
We can use a brand like Apple as an example. Apple’s brand is known for being on the cutting edge of tech, appealing to a higher-end audience with a sleek design.
The brand identity matches this — advertising is straightforward, colour choice is restricted, with lots of white and silver, and plenty of negative space.
The brand identity is pared down, restrained, and concentrated, which matches the brand personality very well.
Apple’s logo, too, falls in line with that, with an identifiable graphic mark that is one of the most iconic and instantly recognisable logos out there today.
However, the original logo design for Apple didn’t exactly fit that brand identity, with an antique-inspired print of Isaac Newton sitting beneath a tree, the apple above poised to come down on his head.
It’s a much more complex, quirky, old-fashioned logo — and it was wise to switch it up for the now-classic bitten apple variation, which suits the company’s personality.
Since the logo is a part of the brand identity, rather than the brand identity being wrapped around the logo, it’s essential to make sure that the other visuals inform the logo’s design, not the other way around.
If your logo design doesn’t fit in with the rest of your visuals, things can get really complicated and messy.
When Logo Design Goes Bad
The main potential problem with a disconnect between logo design and brand identity design is faulty messaging.
If your logo design and your brand identity are at odds, only one of them can be accurate for your brand. Either way, you’re going to end up sending the wrong message to your customers.
Logos are an excellent opportunity to evoke emotion in your viewer and create a connection between viewer and brand.
They’re small, but they can be designed to pack a powerful punch — after all, you only have a few seconds to make an excellent first impression, so you want your logo to be memorable!
But every entrepreneur also needs to ensure that their logo is memorable for the right reasons, not because it’s poorly — or even badly — designed.
Bad logo design reflects not just on the designer (prompting the question, “What were they thinking?”) but on the brand behind the logo.
Approximately 75 per cent of consumers, for example, believe that the “look and feel” of a logo — not just the actual visual appeal or skill behind the design — can make a company thriving or sink it entirely.
And 60 per cent of them, according to the same set of research data, will actively avoid companies that have logos they find to be odd, ugly, or unappealing in another way.
So your logo design can either pull down your brand identity — or elevate it. And along with your brand identity, logo design can make or break your company itself.
Why You Need Both
With all the kerfuffle about logo design vs brand identity and making sure they play well together, is it really essential to have both?
Again, the short answer here is yes! Yes, it is.
Imagine the range of branding that is needed for your company. Imagine that you don’t have a logo to put on them despite the wide range of visuals. How will your viewer identify the brand behind the marketing?
Look at it the other way around. You’ve decided against creating a brand identity and will stick with your logo instead.
Okay, your company is identified, but your marketing and advertising are all over the map since you don’t have any guidelines to go by.
The only way that your audience knows whom the marketing belongs to is because of the inclusion of your logo, and the messaging is fragmented and confusing.
So — do you need both a logo and a brand identity?
I think you can answer that for yourself, by now!
Logo Vs. Brand Identity — What You Need To Know
The question we started with was, “Is my logo the same as my brand identity?”
And the answer, in short, is a simple, “No.”
A logo is not a brand identity, but it should be part of it. And a brand identity is not wrapped up in a logo but is primarily identified by it.
The logo is the primary identifier for your brand, and your brand identity encompasses all the rules by which your brand communicates visually with your audience.
Both your logo and your brand identity are vital components in your overall branding, and each of them plays a part in your company’s success.
Author Bio: Christy Young is a professional copywriter who’s just started her freelancing career. She writes on diverse topics, including business, marketing, branding and real estate. From blog writing to ad copy and SEO writing, she delivers top-notch content to her clients.