Welcome to the first post in a series focusing on all things logo. These posts aim to educate how much work and thinking goes into logo development. A lot of times, logo development is skimped, and brands settle for ‘good enough’ to launch. That attitude is a symptom of something far worse going on. This post looks at that sickly symptom and explores the relationship of a logo to its brand. This relationship will be one of the most important to understand in this logo game. Let’s dive in.
What is the relationship between a logo and a brand?
A logo is not a brand. Let’s get that out of the way right off the bat. It surely is an integral part of your brand. We must start with this distinction. A lot of business owners will think:
All I need is a logo, and we are good!
Sure, a logo is the first impression someone will see of your business, but your brand is the overall soul and interaction of your business. The logo will get folks to the door, but your brand will nurture them when they walk into your world. You need your brand fully developed for your logo to sing like a canary in the summer and become an agent of change!
Think of your brand in two sections:
The surface and the sub-surface. The visual. The magic behind the scenes.
The surface will contain your logo, but it is DRIVEN and DEVELOPED based on your sub-surface brand development. This is super important to understand. The sub-surface will include vision, mission, market research, competition research, and, most importantly, positioning & differentiation. There is more work in the subsurface. The subsurface will provide clarity and direction that will fuel the development of your logo. It’s easier to design in the fresh air than smog.
If you haven’t done that sub-surface brand work – guaranteed your logo development will be less impacting than if you had done that work. An exceptional logo designer will be doing that work for you as well as developing the logo. Or, if you do have that work done, then your designer will LOVE you for having a clear toolbox for them to work with.
Ok, we have shown the connection of a logo to its brand. While this article is in a logo specific deep dive series – you HAVE to drill this into your head. The best logos will have a fair amount of brand development done beforehand. Period. A brand and logo will always be connected at the hip. Married. In relation to each other.
Now, these next sentences will be more impacting.
Also, this dry definition if you like boring:
Logo, noun: Also called logotype. A graphic representation or symbol of a company name, trademark, abbreviation, etc., often uniquely designed for ready recognition.
You see that last sentence? ‘ready recognition.’ That comes from clarity. Knowing what you want to be recognized FOR. That’s part of a logos job.
Ask Questions Before Logo Development
I remember a creative director telling me, “It’s just a logo, no one cares as long as it is simple and says the company name clearly… don’t spend too much time on it.” – In theory, this is a thought that has some merit to it. But then that is also the words of someone who doesn’t want to take their time and do something impressive. Not to say you can’t make a logo that is super awesome super quick – just that it is rare, and your attitude towards the logo development process should be a little more – patient.
Whether this is your own brand/business or a client of yours – you need to be asking some tough questions – and answering them:
What am I doing to make the world better through my company?
Who are my competitors?
Why should someone pick my company over my competitors?
What are my values?
What is my mission?
What is my vision?
Where do I see my company in 5, 10, 20 years?
Catch my drift? These fundamental questions are more important than ‘what color do I want to make the logo?’. ‘what font do I want to use?’ naptime. Think deeper. Uncover the story of your brand. You will have more to work with. Your logo will have legs to stand on.
An Example – Personal Brand Logo
My personal brand refresh I am working on for 2020. On the surface, it is for an artist in the mediums of photography, poems, and random design/art. It’s easy to gravitate towards incorporating a photography element — a pencil, something simple and easy. But, what if you asked more questions? What if you started to develop your brand more to develop a richer connection that your public may have with you through a logo? That’s the kicker. Connection. Nike, swoosh, sports, best, must-have. Mailchimp, monkey, cute, best email list management, love it!
By asking myself more questions, I concluded that I wanted to incorporate a personal story into my brand and logo. When I first developed the sub-surface, I kept coming back to a story I often run across. My last name is ALWAYS misspelled a certain way even after I speak back the spelling again. #eyeroll. That story always gave me a smile when I recalled it. Oh, wait, there is a brand moment. Pause. Capture. Sub-surface action happening now. Because I lassoed that smile moment of my life – I developed the pseudonym of fliptheu. The ‘u’ and ‘e’ are always transposed in my last name — time to make fun of it and create something fresh from it. Now I have a story that my logo can grasp onto. From that small amount of work, I developed a cool U mascot to be my logo. Something different, fresh, not like the rest. I stood out. Swoosh. For the brand refresh – I may stick with the U logo. But, since I have grown and matured, I am asking myself harder questions. How vulnerable do I want to be? Will my logo reflect that? What are my values now?
Ok, one last time.
A logo is the visual amalgamation of your brand — the visible billboard of your values. The graphic representation of your services. A golem molded from your mission. The mark that everyone will know you by.
It has to stick. It has to endure. It has to command recall. Memory. Recognizability.
The next article will talk about Market Research. What the heck that even means and how it is essential for logo development.
I hope this has helped you understand part of the logo process.