It’s one of the most important questions asked in the world of business marketing: what is a brand? It is also one of the most misunderstood questions, with people frequently answering with examples of McDonald’s ‘golden arches’, Nike’s ‘swoosh’, or ABC’s ‘worm’ (a ‘Lissajous curve’, if we want to get technical).
You know what I’m talking about. You probably pictured them in your head the moment you read the business name. But here’s the thing — those are logos, my friend. Not brands.
It’s a common mistake made by customers and business owners alike. And indeed, logos and brands are not unrelated. So what exactly is the difference between branding and logo design? Never fear: núcleo is here to explain!
We’ve covered logos. They’re the symbols that companies use to represent themselves — a recognisable design element that offers a quick, visual representation of the business’s message. A logo is a part of the overall brand.
A brand is not a logo. Branding is a much more comprehensive perspective of your company and its interaction with customers. Your brand should be an amalgamation of the valuable ideas of your business, compiled of the products, services, and experiences you offer to your customers.
A brand is every touch-point that a customer can have with your business.
Let’s look at an example:
This is the Lipton logo, updated back in 2014. The redesign was neutrally-met by customers, with some commenting that it had ‘more lens flares than a J.J. Abrams movie’, and others pointing out a certain similarity to the Lay’s Chips logo. Regardless, it is a logo — a simple shape.
This, meanwhile, is Lipton’s branding. It is a combination of their commercials, product packaging, product photography, in-store advertisements, website design, print ads, celebrity endorsements and so on. Their branding is every interaction you have with Lipton, and it speaks volumes more about the company.
Why should we distinguish the difference between a brand and a logo? Why does núcleo offer ‘branding’ as an integrated marketing service, and not just logo design?
It’s simple: customers see your logo; they experience your brand.
Your customers will never encounter your logo as an isolated element in an empty void — it will always be attached to something else. Namely, it will be attached to your brand, which is experienced through your website, or in your video advertisements, or on your product packaging, or anywhere else that marketing takes place. It is the brand that can trigger a positive emotional reaction, not the logo alone.
Of course, the logo still plays an important role.
A potential customer sees your logo.
If the logo is familiar to them, they will recall the experiences they have had with the brand — the television commercials, their favourite Iced Tea flavour, the things their friends say about the brand, the packaging, those sexy Hugh Jackman endorsements.
These memories trigger a positive, emotional, and intellectual response from the potential customer. Oh yeah, I remember this company! I know their stuff, and it’s great.
Lipton Tea winds up in the shopping trolley. That means profit for the business.
So the logo is a visual queue that prompts the brain to recall its interactions with the company and the brand. By itself, a logo is simply an element of graphic design. But when combined, a well-created logo and a cohesive brand strategy can help you effectively reach your audience, communicate your message, and express your quality and value in the marketplace.
Do you have a logo, or do you have a brand? núcleo’s team can help with all aspects of branding, and integrate that into our design process. That means you wind up with not only a logo design, but also a brand style guide that outlines consistent colour schemes, typefaces, use across media, and so on.
Your brand is the experience people have when they come into contact with your business. Make that experience a great one!