Why Your Brand is More Than Just Your Logo

July 12, 2017

Eric Small

Building a Great Brand – Why your brand is more than just your logo.

Many businesses and individuals use the terms “brand” and “logo” interchangeably, but there is much more to the differentiation than one might think. To understand the difference between these two very important aspects of a business, we’ll begin by defining them.

A logo is a visual representation of an organization. It can consist of a mark (an illustrative element or symbol), type (the organization’s name spelled out in type), or a combination of both. Logos are implemented in a variety of ways, including, business cards, letterheads, uniforms, apparel, vehicles, etc. to communicate that the implementation is associated with the organization.

At this point, many would argue, “Well, if I have the logo, I can just put it on everything to create my brand!” Slapping a logo onto something does brand that item, but maybe not with the desired effect. A logo on a beer bottle opener might do wonders for one brand, be completely dismissed by the audience of another, or negatively impact the brand image on a third. The implementation of an organization’s logo onto various items is only one part of a brand.

The overall emotional and intellectual response an individual experiences when thinking about or interacting with different aspects of an organization is what a brand really is. A logo, and the elements that a logo exists on, are only one part of a brand experience. Branding can encompass, but is not limited to, things like a slogan, public relations, product design, advertising or marketing materials, social media, the interior design of a space, or even the way a phone is answered.

The Emotional Response

While branding is informed by the physical world around us, what makes it valuable is the intangible. By interacting with a brand repeatedly through a variety of media, emotional and intellectual associations begin to develop. The eco-friendly coffee spot you enjoy might decide to use business cards made from 100% recycled paper, while a wedding boutique might opt for a gold foil stamped, letterpress option. An organization that provides services for an older audience might drive potential business to someone waiting to take their phone call instead of utilizing a smart phone app purchase like a tech company might. These emotional associations are extremely powerful in creating brand loyalty, and inform a great deal of buying decisions.

Take for example the automotive industry; someone looking to buy a vehicle to take their kids camping on the weekends might favor a Subaru for safety and dependability, while a businessman looking to impress potential clients might look to Mercedes-Benz. Both companies are making the same category of product, but over the years branding has shifted them into different market segments.

The emotional and intellectual response that people have about a brand is developed over time. A new logo or might not be immediately successful because the consumer has not had enough exposure to the brand. This is where repetition and consistency are extremely important. By repeating brand elements in a variety of media, those elements begin to fuse into the overall perception of the organization. Things like colors, typefaces, patterns or even the way content is written can eventually become synonymous with the organization itself. A tech company naming itself after a fruit seems crazy, but everyone in the coffee shop knows who made your laptop if it has that glowing white apple on the back.

Branding is Everything

Anything an organization does that is viewed by the public helps build their brand image. From advertising campaigns to product malfunctions, anything that is seen by the public can affect brand image in a positive or negative way.

Therefore, organizations will often drop their sponsorships for spokespersons such as professional athletes after bad behavior, as they do not want their brand to be associated with actions that their customers might find offensive. On the flip side of this coin, a spokesperson with a track record of being kind, courteous, and involved in the community can positively affect the brand image of that same organization.

It takes a long time to establish a reputable brand, but a misstep can destroy a brand very quickly, and unless they can mitigate the damage, it may be permanent. Therefore, large companies spend so much money on public relations firms. Whether they are deflecting blame for a mishap, or are diverting attention to the positive actions they may have taken, organizations are made or broken by their public image, and they will fight tooth and nail to protect that image.

Branding is Inevitable, Make Sure It Works for You.

Branding is something that will happen to an organization over time, whether it is directed or not. Individuals will develop opinions about a brand or service, even if they have not been prompted to do so. Therefore, it is incredibly important to create a solid brand as early as possible to lay the groundwork for a continued good brand image. It is immensely more difficult to change a brand once it has been established than it is to create what an organization would like their brand to be and work towards the desired emotional response through a well thought out plan.

Adhering to a brand plan can help to avoid inconsistencies in the way a brand is presented. By controlling how brand materials are created through following a brand standards guide or using a brand manager or designer, an organization can avoid off-brand elements from reaching the consumer experience.

 

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