Why your logo is not your brand and how to start branding

Here's why your logo is not your brand and the proper way to start branding your business.

If I say “brand” or “branding” then maybe logos are one of the first things to pop into your head. But the reality is that branding is so much more than that, as I’ve previously covered.

While logos (and the rest of your visuals) are definitely a part of your brand, it’s definitely not the whole picture. And whether you’re branding a new business, or rebranding an existing one, the first step should never be logo design. Branding just doesn’t start with your logo! I’m going to explain why.

Also read: What is branding and why is it important?

Logos are only what we see

As consumers, we see a lot of logos as we engage with different brands in our daily lives. That’s probably why we so strongly associate brands with the logos they use. If we’re walking down the street and see the logo of our favourite clothes store, it stands out to us. We might feel compelled to step into the store. It reminds us of what we love about the brand.

A lot of the information we gather about the world around us is through what we see. So, when it comes to brands, the visuals are highly noticeable, and play an important role in the experience we have of a brand.

Visuals are part of the external projection of a brand

We way a brand looks indicates to us who the brand is for and how it should make them feel. It communicates a message. The colours used, the typography, the icon in a logo… these things are chosen with the intent to suggest a particular tone and story to the audience.

So, what has to happen before you can decide what kind of logo will best portray a particular tone or story? You have to know what the tone and story are.

Related post: How to create a brand story that captivates your clients

The internal side of branding

This is the part we don’t see. All the strategic work that goes on behind the scenes, within the business.

  • development of the brand’s foundation
  • identifying who the target market is
  • narrowing it down to the most ideal client
  • building a story
  • creating a compelling message

These are the parts that truly make a brand what it is.

Related post: Is a lack of brand strategy holding your business back?

Transforming your brand strategy into captivating visuals

Only once you’ve defined who you are, what you do, how, why, and who for, can you strategically develop a logo and brand identity system that you can confidently know will add value to your business.

If you know what your brand represents inside-and-out, you have a framework to guide you as you make decisions about how your logo should look, what colour it should be, and so on. You don’t have to get stuck allowing your choices to be based purely on personal preferences and assumptions. Instead, you can look at your branding more objectively and move forward in a direction that will get you results because it’s based on that internal work you’ve already done.

Your logo design represents your brand

Your logo is not your brand. It’s simply one way to visually indicate your brand. The true power of a logo comes from the relationship you build with your audience and the way in which they come to recognise your logo for what it represents. Having a beautifully designed logo doesn’t make a brand amazing.

What makes a brand amazing is:

  1. having a solid foundation based on strong values, sense of purpose and personality
  2. being able to convey that brand through messaging and visuals so that your target audience can enjoy it

Also read: Why brand identity is important for your business

How to start branding your business and why the process doesn't begin with your logo design or other visual elements.Last thoughts

If you’re in the midst of branding or rebranding your business, I hope this helped to clear up the way you should go about building your new brand. As creative, entrepreneurial people, the temptation to dive right into the fun visual stuff is pretty strong — but the benefits of doing it right and starting with the foundational components of branding are hugely rewarding.

If you want some help with it, check out this free branding resource that will guide you through everything you need to do to start creating your brand strategically: The Branding Intro Workbook.

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