Why a logo isn’t branding

One of the common mistakes some businesses are making in relation to their marketing, is to confuse their logo design with branding.

Those who have known me over the years, know that I am no big fan of jargon. However, in this case, it is important to understand what branding means and why it should not be confused with logo design.

In this world of “stack ’em high and sell ’em cheap” mentality, it is all too easy to jump online and order a logo for your business and think that the job is done.  Business owners can tick that box and get on with what they do best and what is going to earn them a living – running their business. Quite right too!

The problems arise down the line when we start using our logo in isolation as part of a perceived branding.  A logo is, of course, primarily an identifier for your business.  It serves many functions, if designed well.  It can describe the function and nature of your business, it can portray what I call the ‘vibe’ or personality of your business, it can even identify the location of your business.   But that is not branding.

Branding is a much more calculated and controlled strategy of which your logo is a part.   Branding is not something any business should take lightly. Even if you paid very little for a logo, without careful consideration on how to use it in your branding means you have wasted an opportunity and most likely the money you spent on it.

Consider how the market leaders do it.

Coca Cola don’t even have to include their name in their marketing.  The red, white and the iconic swash give no doubt as to who is communicating with you – be it in advertising, merchandising or signage.  The same can be said of Cadbury, or Apple, or BP.  Their use of typefaces, colours and styles is very specifically designed to create and maintain their brand values.

These giants have established their logo, taken it and ran with it, using aspects of it to stretch its value exponentially. We have worked with some of these mega corporates and, believe me, they guard their brand identity ferociously!

A logo is not a brand.  It is part of a brand, indeed it is usually the linch pin of a brand.

When we design a logo for a client, we do so with a view to what part it will play in the overall branding of the client’s business.  How it will be used, where it will be used and even when it will be used.
With that in mind, our logo designs are always accompanied by a comprehensive Style Guide.  This guide lays down the strict usage guidelines that must be used in order for the logo to attain its greatest value to the business. The exact colour references for the logo itself in CMYK and Hex (web) formats as well as complementary colours that can used alongside it. We stipulate where a logo is best positioned in certain contexts and any variations of the logo that are permitted where circumstances dictate it needs to be adapted.

The result is that the logo works as an element of the branding and that the business benefits immeasurably from the way it presents itself.  The logo, in conjunction with the branding does all the heavy lifting!