It’s a common thought that branding and a logo are the same things. After all, great logo designs stay with us. They’re easily recognisable and easy to recall.
But a good logo alone does not complete the brand, especially today when that brand has to adapt and live across many channels.
There was a time when a family name in big letters, painted on the side of a shop, was all you needed. Everyone knew who this family was and what they did. In essence, they knew their story.
But as the world got bigger and more competitive, how we tell that story had to evolve. Companies had to differentiate themselves through the logo design, visual style and tone of messaging.
However, there are too many questions for a logo to answer on its own. What is this company/product? What do they do? What are their values? Why should I trust them?
Logos that become overcomplicated trying to answer these questions on their own tend to fail. For instance, a new renal therapy product doesn’t necessarily have to have a kidney and a patient in the logo. There are plenty of other ways to show this in supporting imagery, design and messaging.
So a brand has its story, and the logo is the opening chapter.
Like the beginning of a good book, the first chapter should engage us instantly and have a lasting impact. But the following chapters have to grip us too. All of the chapters must have the same voice to make a clear narrative.
And without all these other elements in harmony, a great logo can go to waste.
There are plenty of examples of great logos that sit alone without a great brand and, sometimes, great brands that don’t have an (objectively) great logo.
What’s most important is brand cohesion – a sense that everything from a website to an email signature has been cut from the same cloth. A reflection of the logo while not necessarily being just about the logo.
Imagine a company that positions itself differently in each marketing action. In a moment, it adopts a lighthearted tone, then, suddenly, it chooses a serious approach.
If this happens constantly, there will be natural disruptions in the message, preventing a clearer understanding of what the brand is at heart.
The same problem can happen if there is no consistency in more superficial issues, such as the colours used in graphic pieces or the style of photography. These are crucial details related to the visual identity of the brand.
The clearer the pattern in the communication and use of these elements is, the more consistent the brand will become.
The ‘swoosh’ is so synonymous with Nike that it has already explained some of the brand story (namely, who is this company and what do they do?). However, the positive, fairly serious tone of their marketing is another defining trait. We could all probably identify a Nike advert without their logo on it.
And that’s the trick to a great brand, creating a compelling story that lives beyond a logo.