Logos are designed – brands are built

A logo is not a brand

A logo is a symbol or wordmark, or a combination of the two, which personifies an individual company, or a range of products or services. When this is applied consistently and in conjunction with a predetermined set of styles and elements — fonts, colours, photographs and graphics — it forms the cornerstone of the visual identity.

Expectation

Advertising, marketing, PR, point of sale and any other opportunities to communicate your offering to potential buyers generates expectations that are both implicit and explicit. Often these address desires that are not necessarily physical or rational. Our desire to ‘buy’ is often driven by less than rational ‘needs’ whetted by emotion. Brands signify the expectation of satisfying these desires.

Experience

Tasting the brand should satisfy the expected needs and desires, be they functional (It does what it says on the tin) or emotional (I’m loving it). The experience should satisfy the need and reward any effort or cost incurred. The experience should be perceived as special and should be bonded to the brand (It’s got our name on it…)

Memory

Memories are made of this and so are reputations. Remembering the good experience — the satisfaction — delivered by a brand encourages people to tell other people the good news and to seek more. The virtuous cycle starts over again.

Communicating the brand

Understanding what makes something special and the way in which it answers real and perceived needs — the brand’s values — is essential in creating a successful brand. “I don’t know why anybody would want that” is the great put down of Dragons Den. But sometimes people don’t know what they want. When Steve Jobs unveiled the first iPad no one really expected it to be the must-have sell-out product it is today.

Reinforcing the brand

Once the brand values are understood they should be reinforced at every point of contact. iPads not only do what they claim to do (deliver a universe of useful and entertaining electronics in a simple to operate portable device) but their very design (right down to the box they arrive in) reinforces the pleasure of owning them. All your public facing activities, from the style you write your emails to the way you answer the phone should enhance the brand experience.

Visual identity

The way the brand looks, in all its various manifestations, is far more than the design of the logo. The logo itself is just one artifact which usually comprises of several elements: the primary colour scheme, logotype font and possibly a symbol. Secondary, complimentary colours and fonts are usually specified along with a set of rules on how these components fit together in various applications like signage and stationery. These are embodied in brand guidelines which offer examples and a toolbox to extend the brand identity by following carefully compiled rules. See examples for Fat Face, Police Constables, a manufacturer and a training provider.

We can make you look the part…

Large and complex businesses have “brand DNA” permeating the genealogy of their operational hierarchies. They retain “Brand Guardians” to oversee and police the way their brands are used. All scary stuff, very expensive but apparently unable to influence poor product design that results in car recalls, bendy phones and incendiary freezers.

Regardless of size, we try to get under our clients’ skin to understand where they are and where they are heading. In order that we can produce designs that are both relevant and inspirational we need to understand a business’s core values and the environment it inhabits.

Branding is something that usually happens when things change: a new company or product is born or because there is a change in direction, a new start, a re-birth. It’s an exciting activity full of hope and promise; full of expectation. Get it right and you are one third of the way there.

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