Which logo design makes my brand unique?

Brand or logo? The small but subtle difference

“Look, we have a new brand!” - Well, actually it's a new logo. Logo and brand - are they actually the same? This impression arises in many conversations. The terms are cheerfully used synonymously and at the end of the day it is not necessarily clearer what is meant or used. This misunderstanding has also emerged frequently in the discussion about the city of Kiel's new brand.

Are the logo and brand really identical? No, they definitely aren't. In the following I would like to unravel where the difference between logo and brand lies and why it is worth distinguishing between the two.

I recently stumbled upon an advertisement. The headline was "Branding our startup: We need a branding strategy". A startup that thinks about a brand strategy. Great, the strategist's heart is happy, because that doesn't happen very often. The joy was gone as quickly as it came when I read the task description. The expected performance of the "branding" was specified there:

  • Develop logo
  • Design website
  • Design packaging

Develop a brand = "Make it colorful"

With such tenders, the hair on the back of my neck regularly stand up. Because it reveals an understanding that a “brand” only consists of a logo and design. Accordingly, “brand development” would actually be the same as “logo development”. Sure, logo and corporate design are the visible aspects of a brand. And those are the ones that the customer will later notice or remember first. That is exactly why they are important components of the brand. But a strong brand is much more complex than just the visual impression.

The common misunderstanding: brand = logo

It is not really surprising that customers and users use the terms “brand” and “logo” synonymously. It is precisely the visual impressions that enable recognizability - the “Ah yes, I know!” Effect. Be it the "golden M", the "magenta-colored T" or the "bitten apple". Even the smallest visual parts of the respective brand are enough to let a whole brand world with all its associations arise in our heads.

But how exactly do you achieve the effect that when you think of the yellow-blue furniture store, we immediately think of Swedes, hot dogs, missing screws, a ball pit and a misleading labyrinth of corridors? The exciting part of brand development begins with this question. Unfortunately, a pretty design is not enough for this effect to occur with the customer. Such a shortened understanding of the brand can even have fatal consequences on the corporate side. Because it suggests that all you need is a pretty logo and attractive packaging to build a strong brand. As a result, marketing is often primarily invested in design. But the beautiful design may remain empty and powerless in terms of content.

Why do we prefer to talk about design rather than strategy?

Design speaks to us directly and without deeper reflection. We don't have to think first to find something attractive or interesting. Our brain can do this fully automatically. That is the great strength of successful design. In order to actively develop a brand and sharpen its profile, however, this characteristic of design is only suitable to a limited extent. Because design always has to be interpreted before it can be discussed.

Develop a common understanding of the brand

A common understanding of a brand is extremely important. This is the only way for a company to pull together with all of its different people and areas. To do this, central questions must be answered such as:

  • What service / product does our brand represent? And what does it explicitly not stand for?
  • What problem does this solve? Which need addressed?
  • What are the characteristics of our brand?
  • What emotions is our brand associated with?
  • How do we position the brand successfully in competition?
  • etc.

How does the brand strategy become a design?

Finding the answers to these questions is not an end in itself. They form the basis of the work of any professional designer. Because this requires an idea, an idea of ​​the brand, which it should visualize with a logo and corporate design. This also makes the difference between whether a logo is simply “creative” (as clients are so fond of) or whether a logo conveys the idea and the story of a brand.