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The differences between brand, identity and logo
When people think about the word brand they too often associate it with a business logo but there are many more underlining elements and a logo can only be considered as the face of a company. When looking at the elements that form a brand they can be split into three main areas, brand, identity and then logo.
The brand element is the perceived emotional image of a company as a whole, identity refers to the visual aspects that form part of a brands image overall and a logo identifies a company or brand in its simplest form, usually via a mark or icon.
What Is A Brand?
A brand can be difficult to define and also difficult to dissociate from the other elements previously mentioned. Digging deep into the subject can often leave a person without a definitive answer and leave more questions they need to find answers for.
After plentiful research conducted over the years I have come to the conclusion that a brand is the personality perceived through a company, their products and their services. A true brand is not created by these elements alone and an individual or company cannot simply create a brand, a brand is created by the audience who perceives it. Although the foundation for these elements can be put in place and have to be constructed in order to form a brand in its simplest, presentable form.
Another misconception is that other elements such as typography, colours, slogans, video and audio make up the core parts of a brand but this quite frankly is not true, not even in the slightest. It’s far more complex than that. It doesn’t matter what a logo or brand colours look like. It’s only important knowing how people feel about it. Realistically a brand is a corporate image portrayed through many different aspects.
Any and all tasks undertaken by a company, its assets and anything created through production are the true core concepts and values behind what makes a company exist and a brand stand out. These elements show what a company stands for, its goals included and even possibly its ethical approach if there are any.
All these elements can stem from a company’s physical product, a service, content and external image, whether it’s an online or offline presence doesn’t really matter. It all boils down to perceivable image through these elements that makes a ‘corporate image’.
Let’s use the well-known innovative technology company Cisco as our brief case study. Cisco have dramatically increased their productively levels and overall profits over that last five years. As a brand they have found a way to really connect with their audience. They have done this by creating a process that allows them to consistently “manage, understand and act on social conversations” in a scalable way. Doing so has earned them a ROI (return on investment) so high that they are now leading the way for other and sometimes larger brands. Engagement, advertising, innovative products, customer service, strong ethical values and the support of good causes has been their key to success.
It’s not all about just doing things anymore, it’s about showing what you do, what you can do and how it’s done whilst at the same time engaging your audience in such a way that makes them feel as though they were part of the whole process. That is a true perceivable and proven ‘corporate image’.
What Is Brand Identity?
Brand identity or identity design is considered the visual aspect of your brand. It entails consistent visual style, a compelling logo, colour and typography. Video and audio are only enhancements of these aspects, not the identity.
Identity is portrayed through an assortment of creative channels, all of which come together to create one final product viewed as a whole. Each individual element can’t stand by itself but must be complemented by the others. All elements have to be consistent with each other so that as a whole they can be recognisable in any format, layout or platform.
Here is a list of devices that you have to put consideration into when designing your brand identity.
All of these support your brand visually, both tangible and intangible devices. Anything that has visual representation of your company and makes your brand identifiable are considered identity.
As mentioned video and audio are enhancements of these elements. Video portrays your current visual imagery when using existing identifying imagery in videos. The video didn’t create a perceivable image that identifies your brand, the image was already there and is being supported and enforced through video The same goes for audio, words and sounds are used to enhance the visual aspects by setting a tone.
Personally I would like to add brand name to this list. Some of you will agree and some of you may not. I believe those who disagree don’t truly understand the visual elements behind words. A strong brand name will convey powerful imagery in our brains and can be a powerful motivator when it comes to decision making. Think about the words fear and paranoia. They are both similar words but both have different meanings. Both stimulate some sort of visual recognition that would make us feel differently about a person or situation.
Making a company name part of the brand identity is not only possible but should be encouraged. When people hear the word Apple (the technology company) they are presented with a mix of emotional and visual snippets that reconfirm personal feelings towards the brand. You don’t necessarily have to choose a brand name that automatically conveys visual stimulation but build a brand where any word can stimulate visual perceptions through what is already being felt through a brand and its identity elements.
What Is A Logo?
As I stated at the beginning of this article “a logo can only be considered as the face of a company”, “a logo simply identifies a company in its simplest form usually via a simple mark or icon”. To narrow this down a logo is what identifies your company or brand. It is simply identification.
A logo is a visual mark, icon, symbol, flag or signature that identifies a company, product or service. It does not describe or add value to a company or brand, it is vice versa. It does not enhance a brands identity, personality or values, nor does it make your company’s products and services sellable. It only conveys what is already known about a company through one identifiable mark. All the previously discussed elements of a company and brand are only perceived and reaffirmed through a logo.
A logo is about meaning and showing the importance of the brand behind it. For example, think of your entire body. The brand is your whole body which includes your head, arms and legs etc. Your logo represents the body as a whole. Your logo does not represent your arms or legs on their own.
Only after a brand becomes familiar will a logo start to represent it as a whole. Simply creating a logo and adding a name to it does not represent a brand. This is achieved through the perception of its audience. Graphic designers create logos all the time, thousands of logos are viewable online. Sometimes they are created just for fun, practice or to showcase skills. That does not mean that these logos automatically have a perceived brand behind them. They are meaningless alone.
Brand – A corporate image perceived emotionally as a whole.
Identity – A brand and its elements formed through visual aspects.
Logo – A mark or icon identifying a brand or company in its simplest form.
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