Sorry, Kids: Your Logo Isn’t Your Brand

So many clients ask for a logo, and then think, “Great, I’m done! Here is my brand.” Not to be the bearer of bad news, but actually, no. Your logo isn’t your brand. Of course, it’s one aspect of it, but it’s really not the most important part.

The Designer Perspective

One of my biggest challenges as a designer is creating logos. “Hey, can you just whip up a logo for me quick?” is probably my most frequent request. A designer’s specialty is conceptualizing how to convey your brand. In other words, no – I can’t just “whip up” a logo. (And you don’t really want me to.)

The Bigger Picture

There is a bigger picture to creating a good brand, and it’s not just visual. If you don’t know what your brand is, a designer can only do so much for you. In fact, a great brand can actually have little to do with design. But let’s be clear here: great design helps a whole lot. That’s why, before even diving in, a designer’s first priority is doing research and understanding the market.

The 3 Questions to Ask Yourself

Here are a few questions that I want my clients to be able to answer:

  1. What is the feeling of your company? What do you do? How do you want your customers or clients to feel about your business? This is a key point for selection regarding the right color and fonts for your brand (and likewise, the colors and fonts to avoid). Some markets are easier for me to understand than others. For example, I’ve worked with construction and healthcare companies most of my career and understand their customers. There is no way I’m going to create a healthcare logo with paint splatters and dirt, or a construction company with a curly font. Industries do lay the groundwork for a particular look and feel, but that extra feeling behind your brand will make it stand out.
  2. What is your comfort level with design? At the end of the day, you need to like – or, better yet, love – your creative. Be proud of it. Share it. Logos can range from super simple to ultra complex. So how creative are you willing to get? This will also impact the collateral that goes along with your logo. We want design to reflect you as well as your brand, and we don’t want to veer too simple or too complex if that’s something you can’t accept. As professionals, we’ll make recommendations. But it ultimately is your brand.
  3. Who are your competitors? It’s important to know who you are, who you aren’t and who you want to be. But it’s also important to know who you’re going head-to-head with. The American Marketing Association defines a “brand” as a: Name, term, design, symbol or any other feature … that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers. Clients have come to me with work from their competitors, saying, “I want it to look just like that.” While there may be parts of another design to take into account, stand out on your own. You’re making a fight harder than it needs to be if you match everyone else.

The Takeaway

Design is easy when the identity of your business is clearly defined. Most of the time after doing the research, I can visually see a client’s brand. So what’s the moral of this story? Don’t just ask for a logo and call it a day. Logos, colors, typography, written and visual language are easy when you’ve focused on what you are, how you deliver that, and how you blow everyone else out of the water.

The logo and look will come.

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Jena LaPlante

Artsy. Smart. Spunky. Jena has over 10 years of expertise in graphic design, UX, creative strategy, and branding.

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