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Branding 101: Brands Are Not Your Logo!

Branding 101: Brands Are Not Your Logo!

Posted by: Tim | Categories:  Branding and IdentityDesignIndustry Research

This is part 2 of Tim's series on branding. To read the other parts, click here. 

Brands are NOT your logo

A friend asked me to create a logo for her. She had this very specific idea in mind and began to share her vision.

I swear I drifted off for a moment after listening to her go on and on about color, background, font, etc. Don’t get me wrong, she is creative and has a clear vision, and I do truly love the creative process...

BUT, when you have no idea what your Brand is, creating logos and visual elements are nothing more than putting a bow on an empty present.

Why your Brand is NOT your logo

A Brand is a visceral and emotional response to a product or service.

It’s a reaction.

Can a logo help trigger that response? Sure, but if you have no idea what that response should be, you are doing nothing more than tap dancing in a fog bank, my dear readers.

I asked my friend who wanted the logo to describe her company to me.

I asked her to describe her ideal customer. I asked her to use emotional references as much as possible.

Then, I asked if the logo she described aligned with the emotions she described about her company. That telltale redness of “darn it! You got me!” washed over her face.

You may be thinking why should I bother with a logo then? Tim thinks they are silly.  Well, that’s not true. That logo is a visual switch that triggers emotional responses consumers feel about your company (Brand).

Here’s an example: Hallmark has this very unique logo.

In 1927, the Hall brothers created the name Hallmark as reference to their family names and also from the practice of Hallmarking precious gems and metals in Europe to affirm their value and quality. The crown was added a few years later and the logo has been virtually unchanged since the 1950’s.

The cards and the crowned wordmark bring back memories of birthdays and holidays where my mom would present us with cards she painstakingly selected for their perfect sentiment. I still can’t help but turn a card over to check if it’s a Hallmark card.

Does the Hallmark logo reinforce their Brand? In my book, it sure does!

It exemplifies quality, care, emotions and tradition. And most importantly, their brand helps communicate emotions in the form of a pretty card.

What can you do about aligning your logo and brand?

The most important thing you can do is divorce yourself from any attachment to your logo.

Once you feel you can objectively look at it as work in progress, then you can begin to investigate how that element plays with everything else that makes up your Brand.

Think about what your company is about. Think of what you offer your customers. Then, think about how this visual cue can work to trigger that emotional response that reinforces your Brand.

When you feel like you have a good idea of how that looks, then it’s time to put pencil to paper and start designing.

Companies invest a lot of time and energy into developing their logos— only to miss the ‘Brand Boat’ because they couldn’t look at their Brand objectively.

That’s where we can really help leverage your brand story and create a logo that communicates your Brand. 

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