Creating a brand is an essential aspect of doing business. It is marketing. It is art. It is creativity. It is born from brainstorming, conflicts, turmoil, inspiration, and excitement—and not necessarily in that order. It is an endless pursuit. For entrepreneurs and even enterprises that have committed to creating their brand, it is the emotional and business equivalent of scaling Everest.
And yet, when we get requests from those just getting their brand off the ground, they seem to focus on one and only one aspect of their brand: their logo. Whether they’ve got one yet, or they are confident that they have “The One,” they often frame their questions and goals as if the logo alone will propel them to Brand Nirvana.
There’s no denying that logos are essential, of course. Who doesn’t recognise the golden arches from the highway, an embroidered alligator on a polo shirt, or a swoosh on a shoe? Logos have power. But the power that they have isn’t generated by the logo alone. The power that logos possess come from the strength of the brand behind them.
Your logo is your brand’s visual signature, and the sight of it should evoke your brand’s overall tone and message. But if you don’t communicate your brand’s overall tone and the message, your logo can’t do its job. And you can’t put your brand’s entire tone and message into a vector image. So, with that in mind, let’s discuss the difference between a logo and a brand in the context of brand marketing.
The difference between a brand and a logo
It is no surprise that people equate brand and logo. Given the examples above, it is easy to see a Nike swoosh, and say, “That’s Nike!” It is easy to see that blue-bordered red and white flag and say, “That’s Tommy Hilfiger.” But that’s an oversimplification of what the customer (and you) are experiencing. When you get that much-anticipated package on the step with the arrow-shaped smile on it, and know that your Amazon order has arrived, are you excited because of the logo, or because of your overall positive shopping experience?
No matter how incredible your logo is, it is not an incredible logo if your customers aren’t linking it to their feelings about your brand.
Creating a logo provides a face for your brand. But like any pretty face, it is only worth what’s behind it. It is your first impression—and your first impression should be dazzling, sexy, fun, irresistible, elegant, or whatever superlative you prefer for your brand. But just as appearance isn’t substance, you can’t equate your brand and your logo. Your brand is so much more.
Emotion, not image
Fundamentally, branding is about passion. That’s why there are a thousand different logos of a thousand different types, and there’s no one way to predict which will be successful. I grab brunch at my favourite spot every Saturday without fail because I know that they will poach my eggs perfectly, my bloody Mary will have the exact amount of zing I expect, my server will be all smiles and enthusiasm, and I’ll walk out of there with a spring in my step and a good feeling about the rest of my weekend. And yes, I do associate that independent restaurant’s logo with that feeling. But if I’d first saw that animated logo and walked in and had a substandard experience, my feelings about the logo would have changed.
Consistency is important. An epic, modern logo should lead to an epic, modern website that fulfils your customer’s emotional expectations. A quirky, cute logo should lead to a quirky, cute mobile game. If it leads to a clunky, serious game that goes against your customer’s emotional expectations, they’re not going to feel fulfilled. They’ll feel tricked.
Your customers, more than anything, want consistency and satisfaction, which means that when you build your brand, you need to keep that in mind. Your goal isn’t just creating a powerful image. It is creating a powerful, satisfying emotional experience for your clientele.
What is a brand?
So, with that in mind, what is a brand? Now that we’ve shown that a brand is neither a name nor a logo, but an emotional experience, let’s talk about the way that emotional experience is built.
Strategy varies on your organisation’s type.
Companies build consumer brands on their products and the story they tell their clients. Take Ikea. Ikea’s brand is functional furniture for an affordable price. Their customers don’t expect that furniture to last for a generation—the brand has created an emotional expectation, and it satisfies their customers’ desires.
Non-profits and humanitarian organisations build their strategy based on goals and aspirations, giving their customers the emotional satisfaction of being part of the fight to fulfil them.
Technology companies offer their customers a story about identity and connection, and they work to fulfil those expectations.
You must build your brand strategy on the expectations you expect to fulfil for your customers. You need to communicate to them the type of expectations you will satisfy.
Motivation for action
Calls to action are vital in any marketing message, and they’re much more complicated than they’re often portrayed in marketing literature. Sign up now! Buy now! Get a free x if you join today! These aren’t necessarily bad calls to action. But to be effective, they need to speak to your overall brand.
“Donate and save a life,” is a call to action with an emotional component that works for a humanitarian organisation. “Order now and receive a gift” is an effective lure for deal hunters. “Sign up now and receive a free e-book to learn more about losing weight” is a great way to entice health-oriented consumers.
Calls to action don’t need to be complicated, and in fact, they shouldn’t be. But what they do need to do is support (and build) your brand identity.
Customer interaction is key. Remember the brunch spot I mentioned? Even with perfectly poached eggs, I’m not going back to a place where the waitstaff looks bored and annoyed that I’m asking for a water refill. On the other hand, if my eggs come out scrambled one day, and the server is happy to change them out for me, I’ll still have had a great experience.
A flashy, interactive website can be great. But when your customer reaches out to ask a question, or gets a shipment that’s off, or receives a defective product, and they’re treated as if they aren’t valuable to you, that can be a death knell for your brand.
Content is king, we’ve heard over and over again. It might be cliché, but it is true. No matter how slick your logo, if your customer rocks up to your site and sees a poorly written copy—it is got lousy grammar, it is challenging to navigate, or it is too dense to digest—they’ll lose interest in record time.
How you communicate is key to building your brand. Your message is important, but how it is said is just as (if not more) necessary in some cases.
It is also essential that your brand live up to your copy. If you’ve employed a stellar copywriter who sets expectations too high (or embellishes), and your customer’s experience with your brand can’t live up to your copy—that reflects poorly as well.
More than the sum of its parts
The brand is much more than just a logo, an excellent customer service rep, a fantastic web designer, a reliable product, or an exceptional service. It is all the above. And when you get all the moving pieces working together, that’s when you have truly built a brand.
The devil is in the details. A flashy logo on a cheap product won’t sell your brand, and a great Grand Opening sign half stapled to the wall and patched with tape won’t sell your brand. A pretty hostess at the front of the restaurant can’t sell a restaurant with dirty glasses and terrible service.
Think about the Apple Store and its Genius Bar. The moment you walk in, everything around you supports and upholds and communicates Apple’s message of streamlined, advanced, and intelligent luxury.
Your websites, your storefronts, your customer service call centre, your products and services themselves—all these things come together to create a unique world. And that world is your brand.
So, by all means, strive for that perfect logo and the exquisite name to go along with it. But while you’re doing so, think about what that logo stands for and how you deliver on the promises it makes. Because in the end, that’s what building a brand is all about. Identify the needs of your audience. Communicate to your audience that you can fulfil those needs in the best way that you can.
And then do it. Ensure that every time they see that logo, they equate it with the satisfaction that only your brand can provide. Speak with our team of Graphic Designers to help you differentiate your brand from your logo!