With so much discussion today around brand building and identity, it is easy to confuse the concepts. Many throw in the reference of visual identity and overlap this with a company’s logo. In all of this, we risk the danger of diminishing the value of each and overlooking essential parts of the business building process. A secondary risk is overlooking customer and employee perception of the company, services, and/or products.
So how can we create distinguishable lines that allow all three terms to interact in meaningful ways? The desire is to see the intersection between brand, identity, and a logo while not overlooking individual features of each. The goal is to maximize all three for growing a stronger business or organization.
First, let’s define each and set some guiding principles.
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A brand is the perception that those inside and outside the company have about the business, products, or services offered. The brand incorporates the values the of the company, and how others receive the values and offerings of the company. To fully understand the brand of the company, one must ask the stakeholders: employees, management, leadership, and potential customers to identify their perceptions and feelings as they relate to the business or organization.
Why is it important?A brand is important because it provides key insights for how a company is hitting or missing its target audience. Products may meet the needs of a customer, but a customer may not agree with the overall values of a company. They do not like the “brand.”
The identity (visual identity) are the images used in collection that create a distinguished visual recognition for a business These are collective elements that work together following similar design guidelines helping potential customer separate one business from another. The identity works in cooperation with the brand values to communicate them to the larger audience.
Why is it important? An identity has become increasingly important in recent years. Companies need to create cohesive communication to keep their message clear and strong. Style guides allow companies to create a cohesive message. Marketing materials, social media banners, posts, and designs all help the customer know exactly who they are working with while giving the company another way to strengthen their brand in the customer’s mind.
A logo is the central identifiable image/artwork for a company. The logo can be an image, text, or both. However, the central goal of the logo is to be central in the visual identity strategy of a company. A good logo communicates the work of a business and the values of the company.
Why is it important? The logo is used to distinguish the company name, values, and services in the mind of the customer. Logos can be the first thing that catches the eye of a customer allowing them to make the next step toward your services.
Why should you distinguish between the 3?
While all Brand, Identity, and Logo all share overlap, companies should distinguish between the three as they discuss strategies, business development, and marketing. To use all three interchangeably creates confusion when it comes to executing the strategies defined and growing the potential market of the company.
So what do you develop first?
When people start their business, one of the first steps they usually take is creating a logo. Why? Generally, they do not understand the logo’s place and value for the company. They see it as the most identifying mark, therefore, important piece of the business messaging component. While it is important for the visual identity, the logo should come toward the end of the process.
The development of the brand is the central focus of building a new business. When you are talking about your brand, you are talking about the services or products offered and the values that support those services or products. In developing the brand, you learn more about the “Why” of the business itself creating a stronger sense of purpose.
In today’s business climate, more people care about why companies exist and will buy in based on these values. Apple’s logo is iconic not because an apple with a bite missing is cool. It is iconic because it symbolizes commitment to an ethos.
After a brand has spent time developing its purpose, product, and target market, they can begin thinking about how to communicate this to the audience. The role of visual identity takes center stage. A brand needs to a strategy to be properly communicated. Colors, mood, and tones are topics that need to be addressed to lay out a proper identity and visual identity that will be distributed.
Will your company be funny, direct, or sarcastic in its identity? Will it have an edge that likes to poke the competitors, or a more reserved, respectful tone? How will people talk about your brand and describe it their friends? The answers to these questions are settled in the discussion about the brand and values.
Now the logo is ready to be discussed and a brief created for a designer or design team. As mentioned the logo is a central point of the identity (visual identity). Once values are determined and voice created, this information will be used to craft a unique symbol of text and graphics for the brand. While the logo will help drive some the visual identity going forward, it is birthed out the first discussion of identity and brand values.
Brand, identity, and logo work together to help form and communicate the essence of a business. They are three pillars that push your business forward when done well. However, they can also create chaos and confusion when done poorly.
It is never too late to assess these three pillars and make corrections. Take control of your brand and identity. If you make one business decision today, consider us to help you take the next step forward.