The Difference Between a Logo and a Brand

Logo versus a brand identity cover

If asked the difference between a logo and a brand, what would your answer be? While it may seem evident at first, many find themselves hard-pressed to actually explain. Let’s start with what we know. Most people get that a logo is a visual that companies use to represent themselves. The Nike swoosh or McDonald’s golden arches are prime, universally recognized examples. But what about branding? This is where much of the blurriness arises. Put simply, branding points to the broader set of strategies put in place to shape the way your customers experience your company. A brand includes every single touch-point your customers have, and all branding elements, which most definitely includes your logo.

Let’s break it down a little further, shall we?

The makings of a brand

A brand is not something that can be directly created by a designer, although they may be a help in developing it. In the era of customer experience (Cx), a brand is the set of integral emotional and experiential elements that fuel your audience’s perception of your business, and by extension, what they tell others about you (on social media, or by other means). A strong brand offers a consistent tone or voice, evokes effective visuals, and communicates its competitive advantages and unique stance with ease. Put another way, a brand is a company’s personality, as understood by its audience. Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, explains the term in nice, concise terms: “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” For example, upon interacting with your company, how would consumers describe you? Trustworthy, practical, cutting edge?

The makings of a logo

A logo is an icon that highlights the core essence or character of your brand. A great logo is a key component of any powerful brand, essentially serving as an easy visual shortcut to your company within an almost always competitive market. Logos don’t necessarily have to describe what a company does, of course, and they tend to work best after people become more familiar with them. For instance, Apple’s logo doesn’t directly describe what they do, yet over time its become a highly effective icon that people recognize immediately. And most importantly of all, even though there have been minor modifications to their logo over time, it’s basically stayed the same shape for almost 40 years. Consistency makes a powerful symbol in the minds of all who care to notice. An effective logo helps customers recall previous experiences they’ve had interacting with your brand.

Bottom Line:

Brand identity is the bigger picture and it’s made up of many parts. A common go-to explanatory tool among marketers is a mountain (or iceberg) where your logo is the visible summit (visual shortcut) and the strong base (which people don’t always see laid out bare but upon which everything else rests) is your broader brand identity. So don’t stop at just a logo. Most businesses need a holistic brand identity, akin to a unified vision, in order to withstand market demands.

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