The Difference Between Branding, Identity and Logo

It’s a question we are faced with all the time. Often clients ask for a logo, but when they communicate their concept, they are usually envisioning an identity design. A logo is not your brand, nor is it your identity. Logo design, identity design and branding all have different roles, that together, form a perceived image for a business or product.

What is brand? – The perceived emotional corporate image as a whole.
What is identity? – The visual aspects that form part of the overall brand.
What is a logo? – A logo identifies a business in its simplest form via the use of a mark or icon.


Branding

Many people believe a brand only consists of a few elements – some colours, some fonts, a logo, a slogan and maybe some music added in too. In reality, it is much more complicated than that. You might say that a brand is a ‘corporate image’.

The fundamental idea and core concept behind having a ‘corporate image’ is that everything a company does, everything it owns and everything it produces should reflect the values and aims of the business as a whole.
It is the consistency of this core idea that makes up the company, driving it, showing what it stands for, what it believes in and why they exist. It is not purely some colours, some typefaces, a logo and a slogan.

Identity
One major role in the ‘brand’ or ‘corporate image’ of a company is its identity. In most cases, identity design is based around the visual devices used within a company, usually assembled within a set of guidelines. These guidelines that make up an identity usually administer how the identity is applied throughout a variety of mediums, using approved colour palettes, fonts, layouts, measurements and so forth. These guidelines ensure that the identity of the company is kept coherent, which in turn, allows the brand as a whole, to be recognisable.

The identity or ‘image’ of a company is made up of many visual devices:
A Logo (The symbol of the entire identity & brand)
Marketing Collateral (Business cards, flyers, brochures, books, websites, etc.)
Products & Packaging (Products sold and the packaging in which they come in)
Apparel Design (Tangible clothing items that are worn by employees)
Signage (Interior & exterior design)
Messages & Actions (Messages conveyed via indirect or direct modes of communication)
Anything else visual that represents the business.

All of these things make up an identity and should support the brand as a whole. The logo however, is the corporate identity and brand all wrapped up into one identifiable mark. This mark is the avatar and symbol of the business as a whole.

Logo
A logo is for… identification.

A logo identifies a company or product via the use of a mark, flag, symbol or signature. A logo does not sell the company directly nor rarely does it describe a business. Logo’s derive their meaning from the quality of the thing it symbolises, not the other way around – logos are there to identity, not to explain. In a nutshell, what a logo means is more important than what it looks like.

To illustrate this concept, think of logos like people. We prefer to be called by our names – Emily, Ashley, Kate – rather than by the confusing and forgettable description of ourselves such as “the girl with the glasses and big hair”. In this same way, a logo should not literally describe what the business does but rather, identify the business in a way that is recognisable and memorable.

It is also important to note that only after a logo becomes familiar, does it function the way it is intended to do much alike how we much must learn people’s names to identify them. The logo identifies a business or product in its simplest form.

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