Your Logo Is Not Your Brand


Your Logo Is Not Your Brand

Owch. Your logo is not your brand… for some of you, that may hurt. Let me explain why your business needs more than a $1000 logo to establish a full-fledged business brand.

While in college, I could easily see how my institution was keeping their branding consistent with everything they did. The color palette, fonts, images, and tone always had the same appeal. I was floored to learn that that consistent look could cost $5K and up from design agencies.

Why though? Why would a university pay thousands of dollars to change a font, add new colors and place some text? What could be the goal behind this? Could this look trigger new students to apply? Does it generate an emotion to provoke alumni to donate? Does it motivate great scholars to apply for teaching positions?

So, what is branding? Branding in the business sense involves strategy, messaging, emotional appeal and visual identity. The misinterpretation comes from designers who offer branding work when they really only offer a logo, stationery, and business card designs. Of course, these items are important to the business, but they only contribute to the brand, they are not thee brand. I certainly don’t want to downplay the import role of the graphic artist who develops these assets for business. However, let’s be clear that branding goes deeper than visual elements.

The origin of the word brand refers to an identifying mark. Livestock farmers would use branding techniques to be able to identify their animals. And with plenty of elbow grease, someday your logo will be used to represent your brand, but just the logo by itself doesn’t represent anything without the mission behind it.

Logo Test

Do recognize these logos? More importantly, do you know what they stand for?


So what is your brand?

Most simply, it’s your promise to your customers. It’s the combination of visual, verbal and emotional attributes that define your company and distinguish it from the competition.* That message should be consistent everywhere. And by everywhere, I’m talking about sale pitches, magazines, newspapers, website, signage, Facebook ads, instagram feed, blog post, even your voice mail box. Your brand needs to live everywhere.

Therefore, building a strong brand is a multi-step process. You’ll need to start by looking at the core values of what you want your business to achieve. Here are some examples: Customer satisfaction, responsiveness, hipness, price, honesty, tech-savvy, quality, atmosphere. Don’t wait, start jogging down some ideas!

Once you have specific core values written down, take a look at the competition.  Evaluate them and figure out how you can offer something better. Be real with yourself and know where you fall short. Think about how you want to compete to gain your target audience.

Before you get too overwhelmed by the competition, next you’ll want to work with a designer on creating a compelling and consistent message the supports your business goals. This is easier said than done. Creating this visual message can be a struggle for many businesses, so if you get a headache just thinking about where to start, don’t feel bad!

While working with a designer, focus on an emotional foundation while creating the look (design and logo), and further promotional materials. When you find a designer with good vibes for your mission, then it can make the process much easier.

First impressions matter. We don’t like to think they do, but they do. How your brand makes people feel and how they react to that feeling will drive you toward success.

Finding a Designer

So when shopping around for a designer to create your logo, ask them if they are available to continue working with you to make promotional material and other elements to keep your brand’s messaging consistent. Note, if they are not available, don’t take it as a red flag. You can still hire them to do the logo, just ask for a referral for another designer to help you explain your branding goals.

Don’t expect a designer to be able to come up with things like your elevator speech, plan strategy, manage public relations, control social networking and finding sponsorships. Unless they specifically say they include those services, the designer probably just want to continue designing the visuals you need. That’s fair, right?

I certainly hope this was helpful! If it was, please leave a comment below or ask a question.

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 Owch. Your logo is not your brand... for some of you, that may hurt. Let me explain why your business needs more than a $1000 logo to establish a full-fledged business brand.

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