Is a “brand” the same as a “logo”? Nope! We get this question a lot. Brand design and logo design are closely related aspects of a company’s visual identity, and although these terms are sometimes used interchangeably, they serve different purposes and encompass various elements.
A company’s brand—rather its brand identity—is like the secret recipe for poutine—a unique blend of elements that make your brand stand out. In the True North, it’s the plaid shirt your brand wears, its picturesque mountains and rugged coastlines, the maple leaf it proudly displays, and the familiar loon and beaver adorning its currency. Your brand identity should have a strong presence, be instantly recognizable, and leave a lasting impression. So, whether you’re selling hockey sticks or Tim Hortons, a solid brand identity is your ticket to being more popular than a double-double at a Timmy’s drive-thru during a snowstorm.
See what we did there? We just described Canada’s brand, eh!
In this article, we have broken down the key aspects of brand identity, including logo design and everything else that goes into building a successful brand.
What is logo design?
A logo is a graphic or symbol that represents a company or brand. It’s a fundamental element of a brand’s visual identity and serves as a recognizable mark or emblem. A logo is typically a single visual element, such as an icon, word mark, or combination of both. Its primary purpose is to create a memorable and distinctive visual representation of the brand.
Logos are primarily used as a visual identifier on various brand materials, such as business cards, websites, signage, and product packaging. They are the most recognizable element of a brand and are often associated with brand recognition.
At the very least, every properly designed logo should have a horizontal and vertical layout, plus colour versions for light backgrounds vs. dark backgrounds. It should also work well in all-white and all-black, it should be understandable at very small sizes, ideally with an accompanying icon/symbol—and the icon should be designed with enough space around it to allow or circle-cropping (common with social media).
What is brand design?
Brand design is a broader and more comprehensive term that encompasses all visual and design elements associated with a brand. It includes the logo but goes beyond it to cover various other elements like colour schemes, typography, imagery, graphic styles, packaging design, and more. The goal of brand design is to create a consistent and cohesive visual language that communicates the brand’s personality, values, and messaging.
Brand design ensures consistency and coherence across all brand touch points and materials. It helps establish a strong and cohesive business identity that resonates with customers, and effectively conveys their values and messaging. It guides the design of marketing collateral, advertising campaigns, and the overall brand experience.
Breaking down a brand identity
Your brand is a combination of all tangible and intangible aspects that represent your organization. Without the brand, the logo wouldn’t have a real meaning; it would merely serve as a graphic element.
Creating your brand first, gives you the ability to curate the overall visual elements across all aspects of your business to present a clear key message to your target audience. Your brand identity includes elements such as colour palette, messaging, tone of voice, logo, company name, website, and many other visual elements of your company. All these elements should be consistent with one another to ensure that your audience recognizes your company in different contexts and channels.
Why is a brand identity important?
Your brand identity can increase brand awareness and help retain new and existing people in your target audiences through consistent imagery and messaging that speaks directly to them. Having a clear and strong brand also helps your company stand out from your competitors.
How to build a brand identity
Building a brand identity takes time. This process will guide you to take manageable steps to building your brand identity for your company.
- Identify your audience
- Research your competitors
- Define your brand’s purpose and position
- Develop a personality and brand voice
- Create your brand story
- Pick a brand name
- Write a slogan
- Design your brand look and logo
- Integrate your brand into your business
Components of brand design
- Logo: The central emblem or symbol of the brand.
- Colour palette: The selection of colours used consistently across all brand materials.
- Typography: The choice of fonts and text styles used for branding.
- Imagery and graphics: Guidelines for the use of specific images, illustrations, or graphics.
- Packaging design: If applicable, the design of product packaging.
- Brand collateral: Design elements for marketing materials, stationery, signage, and more.
- Visual style: Guidelines for the overall look and feel of the brand, including photography and design style.
How do you visually represent your brand identity?
Visuals are key to conveying your messaging in your brand identity. Some important elements of your brand identity include a mood board, brand book and brand colour palette. Let’s look a little closer at how each element strengthens your brand identity.
Brand mood board
Brand mood boards create a physical and emotional response with a series of photos to visually depict what the company represents. Mood boards can be created at the beginning of a project to define the visuals the company wants to be associated with. Mood boards also help after a brand identity is established to review the consistency of branding across different contexts and channels.
Brand books / brand guides
Brand books define the guidelines for how to use your logos, visual imagery and other elements of your company’s visual assets. The brand book helps in-house designers and copywriters keep the branding and messaging consistent across all the places the company exists in.
Brand colour palette
Colour has a major impact on how someone feels about a brand. Every colour has an emotional and psychological impact on an individual. An intentional colour palette can entice your target audience to remember and have more interest in your brand.
The importance of brand consistency
The way businesses deliver and maintain their message is centred on its brand identity and core values. All your company’s marketing content – like logos, images, page copy, and follow brand guidelines – work in harmony to form the backbone of the brand. Branding consistency helps businesses gain and maintain credibility and trust. Positioning your content and visuals in a way that appeals to your target audience, and delivering that same messaging consistently over time, builds a sense of reliability. It’s a foundation for everything that will come later – new leads, new customers, long-term customer retention, and expansion – and so it’s crucial that your brand always remains consistent.
The importance of hiring a professional to design your branding identity
Hiring a professional to design your brand identity gives you a clear brand book, organized files with all your visual assets and constant imagery and brand standards across different contexts and channels. The designer will create a brand book for you so when you or other in-house designers or copywriters are creating content for your company the brand guidelines are maintained. The book also shows you examples of what you can and can’t do with your logo, brand imagery and other visual assets.
Everything you need to know about logo design
A logo on its own is a recognizable visual element that represents your brand and serves as one of the main tools to graphically reflect your brand name, values, and personality to all those you communicate with. A well-designed logo allows people to quickly identify and recall your brand within a few seconds, across different channels and touch points.
The different types of logos
Combination marks (or “logotypes”)
Combination marks—combines images with words—are the most commonly used type of logo. Fairwind Creative’s own logo is a logotype. Other good examples include Amazon and Tostitos.
Wordmarks are logos that consist of the company name in a font or typeface. Some companies create a unique and custom typeface to help the brand stand out. This process does take professional help to create a custom typeface. Some companies choose a font to represent the company properly. Coca-Cola and FedEx are solid, recognizable wordmarks.
Symbol logos or pictorial marks are an image, icon or symbol that represents the company. This logo usually depicts a real-world object. A good example of this logo is the Apple or Instagram logos.
Abstract marks are image logos that metaphorically represent companies. For this logo to be effective, you have to understand your company’s most important brand values. A good example of this logo is the Olympic Games rings or Nike swoosh.
Monograms and letterforms
Monogram logos are logos that use the letters of the company’s initials. These logos are created with a custom font, or a font found that represents the company. Examples of these logos are NASA and IBM.
Mascots, emblems, dynamic marks
A mascot style logo is an illustrated character that visually represents the company. These logos are commonly used for sports teams. Examples of these logos include the Jolly Green Giant by Green Giant and Tony the Tiger by Kellogg’s.
What makes a logo memorable?
A memorable logo is one that leaves a lasting impression on people and is easily recognizable, even after just a brief encounter. To achieve memorability, a logo should possess several key attributes:
- Simplicity: Simple logos tend to be more memorable because they are easy to process and recognize. A logo with too many intricate details or complex elements can be forgettable. Simplicity often involves clean lines, straightforward shapes, and a minimal colour palette.
- Timelessness: While it’s essential to be contemporary, logos that stand the test of time are more likely to be memorable. Avoid trends that may quickly become outdated, as a logo that looks timeless will remain memorable over the years.
- Relevance: Your logo should be relevant to your brand’s identity, values, and products or services. When there is a clear connection between the logo and what your brand represents, it becomes easier for people to remember and associate with your business.
- Consistency: Consistency in logo usage across all your branding materials and touchpoints helps reinforce memorability. People are more likely to remember a logo when they see it consistently.
- Emotion: A logo that evokes positive emotions or associations can be more memorable. If your logo triggers a particular feeling or sentiment related to your brand, it can leave a lasting impression.
- Shape: Logos containing simple shapes are easier for the human brain to remember. We are continuously overwhelmed by an abundance of information from all sides, making it difficult to concentrate on something complex. And when it comes to a business brand, our brains need to understand it within a few seconds to have any chance of storing that information for later.
- Colour: When working with a designer to create a logo for your company, choose colours that help convey your company’s offerings and mood, not your personal favourite colour.
- Versatility: A memorable logo should work well in various sizes, colours, and applications. It should be adaptable for use on different media, from billboards to business cards, and still retain its impact and recognizability. It should be able to be used easily in all-black and all-white. Try not to depend on gradients (one colour blending to another), as those can’t be accurately depicted in all sizes and mediums — however you can have one variation of your logo that includes gradients. A logo that can be adapted or customized for special occasions or campaigns can create additional memorable moments for your brand.
- Distinctiveness: A memorable logo should stand out from the competition and be unique to your brand. It should leave a strong impression on viewers, and should not be easily confused with logos from other companies in your industry. A distinctive logo helps your brand become more memorable because it doesn’t blend into the background.
- Cleverness: A clever or witty element in your logo design can make it more memorable. This might include hidden meanings, clever typography, or playful imagery that piques interest and encourages people to take a second look.
Remember that the memorability of a logo often depends on the audience’s perception and experiences with your brand. Conducting market research and getting feedback from your target audience can help ensure your logo is memorable to the people who matter most to your business.
The benefits of hiring a professional logo designer
When hiring a professional logo designer, you will create a logo that lasts longer. People who buy cheap logos on the internet find the logo isn’t exactly communicating what their company represents. Working with a logo designer means they can create a logo specifically created to represent your company’s core values. Logo designers also provide logo variations so you can use different logos for situations. Some logo versions include a horizontal, a vertical, a white, a single colour, a two colour and an icon version. For example, you can place a white logo version to a dark background that looks crisp and clean as opposed to a logo inside a white rectangle background.
Tips when working with a logo designer
Make sure you have time to review the design drafts in a timely manner helps keep the project timeline on track. It is important that you give specific and major feedback notes during the first and second drafts of a project. In third and fourth drafts, minor feedback is required to make sure the project gets completed by the deadline.
Make your identity brand-tastic!
In summary, while logo design is a subset of brand design, brand design encompasses a broader set of visual elements and guidelines that create a comprehensive and consistent brand identity. Logo design is just one piece of the puzzle, albeit an essential one, in building a strong and memorable brand.
When combined, a well-designed logo and an effective branding strategy help organizations reach their audiences in an effective way, but also create a resilient, industry-leading identity. Whether you’re just starting your company or if you’ve been around for years, don’t underestimate the importance of a well-designed logo and how it aligns with your overall branding strategy. It will be a rewarding investment for your brand and organization in the long term.
Ready to recharge your visual brand identity?
A new or refreshed visual brand identity will help your company reach new audiences and excite current customers, allowing you to stand out in a competitive market. After creating a visual brand identity, businesses find that they have a better understanding of their company as a whole. It also helps your team members better understand your values and feel greater pride as a key play who delivers your products to the world. When you’re ready to work with us to develop your visual brand, just reach out!