by Andrew Watson, Director of Branding
Often, I hear people refer to their logo, colors, fonts and images as their “brand.” These are all components of a brand, but there is much more to it than just the visuals.
What is a Brand?
Branding has evolved over the years, and you will find several different definitions of the word. What began as simply a name or symbol to identify a product or service has expanded to the more current definition that most modern strategists, marketers and brand builders use. In current terms, a brand revolves around the more broad idea of “perception.”
Brand: The perception one has about a company, product or service.
This simple definition encompasses everything a company does and all of the touchpoints the company has with its audience. From internal values and culture, to how you communicate in your advertising and to your in-person experience, this includes all of your marketing materials and everything in-between. It’s the complete experience created by your company as it engages with your audience. These elements influence how people think about your company and affect the perception they develop. This is your brand.
How does the logo fit into the brand?
Your logo is often the first impression of your brand, and it’s what most people will immediately associate with your company. With that lofty status, the logo is an important part of the larger brand picture, but it’s not the sole representation of your brand. Your logo, color palette, fonts, images and graphic assets all fall under the visual identity system of your brand.
Visual Identity: The visual components of a brand.
A great way to understand the difference between visual identity and brand is to think of a company as a person. The way that person dresses would be the visual identity system. A person’s personality, choice of words and tone of voice, combined with how they carry themself and interact, is the perception (or brand). The clothes someone wears may influence the overall perception you might have of that person, but it’s only one small part of the bigger picture.
If I have a logo and colors, do I have a brand?
The reality is, that every company has a brand. Whether you have hired someone to develop a brand for you, you have developed it in-house, or it’s just something that has evolved organically over the years – you have a brand. It might not be very intentional, but it exists.
In today’s competitive landscape, brands have become much more sophisticated and strategic in the development of their brand experience. A pretty logo and some colors are probably not enough to get you where you want to go anymore. Those core elements alone don’t paint enough of a picture to help your target audience decide whether they will go with you or a competitor.
Crafting a Better Brand
When developing a new brand or refreshing an existing brand, it helps to start with a brand strategy, which is a plan that clearly defines the brand and how to communicate it effectively. Using this more strategic approach, you can go beyond the visuals and create a brand that influences the perceptions of the intended audience to make your company more appealing to that audience.
Once a strategy, or direction, has been determined, branding choices can become focused and intentional. Here is a list of the most common brand assets:
Name, Logo, Tagline/Positioning Line
These combine to form the face of your brand and serve as the first impression for most people. The combination of a unique name, logo mark and sometimes tagline can set the tone for everything else that follows. It’s not possible to tell your entire story in a logo, but if done well, the rest of the brand will complement, it and all of the parts will work together to deliver a more comprehensive brand experience.
This encompasses all of the graphic assets, color palettes, fonts and imagery used within your branding. This portion of your brand has the power to quickly communicate a world of intangible information. Color plays a significant emotional role in how your brand is perceived. Fonts may be more modern or more traditional to convey your style. Your imagery selection might complement or contrast these other assets. A shift in any of these can change the perception slightly or dramatically. All of the parts of the visual identity work together as a whole.
Voice and Tone
An important, and often overlooked brand element, is your brand voice or how you deliver your message. The brand voice can have a powerful impact on how memorable your brand is. The voice is the consistent personality that you apply to all your messaging – regardless if it is written or spoken. Does your brand have a casual and witty voice, or is it more informative and buttoned-up? Choosing a voice that works for your brand and resonates with your audience can create a solid connection. To add more complexity into the mix – while the voice of your brand should always be the same – the tone can vary to accommodate different types of messaging. For example, how would your brand voice communicate excitement vs. condolences? Whatever the tone of the message, it should still sound like it’s coming from the same brand voice.
A Brand Encompasses All
The complete experience a person has with your company or organization is what creates brand perception. It’s not just how your logo looks or the colors you use on your website. When all your brand components align and work together, they can communicate your story memorably and authentically, making all your marketing decisions focused and future projects more straightforward. You will want to be intentional with your brand choices to achieve the best results.
Do you have a brand or just a logo?
If you need help evolving or developing your brand, we can help. Learn about our branding process here.