Often, when businesses first meet with us to talk about developing a brand, they want to focus on the logo. But we would be doing them a disservice if we started to create, without first making sure they had a well-defined brand identity. Marketing guru Seth Godin recently wrote, “Marketers understand that your logo isn’t a brand, it’s simply a flag. The brand is the experience that people expect to have when they engage with you.” Check out his blog here.
A logo is a symbol that identifies a brand – it’s part of the overall brand experience you offer, but it’s not the brand itself. The logos for Nike, Coca Cola and McDonald’s are instantly recognized around the world but their meaning, and the feeling associated with them, is the result of decades of intensive brand storytelling and marketing. Their logos have become icons thanks to their overall brand identity and strategy.
Great logo design starts with a well-defined brand identity
That’s why a shiny new logo alone won’t get you closer to achieving your brand development goals. In fact, if you don’t do some foundational brand work before you design, you may find within a few short years that your brand has outgrown your logo, and that your logo is sending the wrong message about who you are, what you do, and who you do it for.
Before you fly your flag, you need to know what it stands for. What is your promise to your customers, your unique selling points, and your brand goals? Thoughtful answers to these questions are at the core of every brand identity, and the foundation on which brand assets, like logos, are built.
Ideally, an outsider should be able to look at your logo and describe it using the same attributes they would use to describe your company. Are you progressive, playful, practical or creative? Is your business innovative, does it offer a unique skill set or approach, or serve a particular community? What are the emotions you want people to feel when they interact with your brand – reassurance, excitement, inspiration or hope? This list describes your brand personality or essence, and it’s one of the key building blocks of your identity. Defining it is fundamental to creating a great logo that expresses who you are.
If you’re thinking about redesigning your existing logo, or building a new one, don’t start the process with a focus on colours and form. Start by ensuring that you have a well-defined brand identity. A strong logo works towards a common goal along with all of your other brand assets – and like everything in design and marketing, it will have far more impact and longevity when it’s founded in a solid brand strategy.