According to the book Brand Identity Essentials (Rockport 2010 Budelmann, Yang, Wozniak) a logo is “a picture (composed of text, a graphic or combination of the two) that represents the collection of experiences that forms a perception in the mind of those who encounter an organization.”1 The sum of all these perceptions can be thought of as the substance of an organization’s brand. A logo then (and how it is fundamentally applied across different media), is a vital business asset for any organization, for it is the key component of a brand’s identity to consumers, competitors and internal constituents.
Though the words logo and brand are sometimes used interchangeably, note that a logo by itself is not a brand, and a brand consists of more than just a logo. Logo and brand are related but distinct. Each element should be carefully considered and executed as part of a sound overall business strategy. To help clarify further the connection between logo and brand, I turn now to something else besides design that I enjoy, that being food!
Think of a brand as a grilled cheese sandwich. The concept of a grilled cheese sandwich calls to mind all manner of sensual details that accompany the “experience” of a grilled cheese sandwich. There are the gooey strands of molten cheese flowing out from between charred, buttery slabs of bread and even the oily residue left on your fingers and lips once you’ve finished! All these details shape the perception of what it means to experience a grilled cheese sandwich. Likewise, brand is the cumulative experiences of a person with all extensions of an organization.
Now think about the slice of cheese that was used to make that grilled cheese sandwich. It has its own “experience”, but it is certainly not a grilled cheese sandwich. Cheese is nonetheless essential to the experience of the sandwich, along with bread. It is strategically and physically at the center of the sandwich. In a similar way, carefully applied and executed logos are at the heart of most enduring and popular brand identities.
Without the slice of cheese, you don’t have a grilled cheese sandwich. Similarly, without a branding system which is often anchored by a logo. Branding encompasses all the touch-points that users have with an organization. It is cumulative. It is when the bread is combined with the cheese and the grilling that you have a grilled cheese sandwich in its truest sense. Standing alone, none of the components constitute a brand.
Logos are content created for the context of brand identity. A logo should be developed and deployed as part of an overall brand strategy. It is alright to start with cheese to get the goal of a grilled cheese sandwich, but more is required to accomplish that goal. That is akin to the brand identity and strategy that is needed for logos to achieve their purpose. A carefully conceived and crafted logo will function to gird (not undermine) a strong brand identity and will be applied in a thoughtful way throughout all marketing products and media. In time, this creates value for brands and increases credibility and profitability.
A better understanding of the relationship between logo and brand can help small business owners make more strategic decisions about how they present themselves and their services in the marketplace. In other words, the right “cheese” can take your “sandwich” from good to great!
1Brand Identity Essentials, Rockport Publishers, 2011
Reggie Holmes is a child of the early 1980′s, a native of Richmond, VA who expressed an interest in design before he even knew what it was. A graduate of the University of Miami with a BFA in Graphic Design, he returned to Virginia after school and worked in several different creative (and non-creative) positions before forming Enthuse Creative in 2013. His goal is to develop a strong solo design practice that contributes locally and influences globally through branding and design while inspiring others to joy and creativity.