In a world where facts are fake and truth is desperately needed, we need to shine some light on what a brand truly is. Let’s get the basic vocabulary out of the way so we’re all on the same page.To set the stage, here are a few words commonly used when talking about branding:
- Brand — not the kind on livestock, but the kind tied to companies
- Logo — a symbol or other design adopted by an organization to identify itself
- Visual Identity — in a brand guidelines book, colors, type, icons, logo, and other details make up your visual brand
Your Brand Is Not Your Logo
Fact! Your logo and brand are totally separate things. Think of a logo as the signature of a company when signing a document: “Sincerely yours, The Starr Conspiracy.” How would I know who wrote me a lovely letter if they didn’t sign their name to it? A simple and well-designed logo is important when trying to build a memorable brand. Although a logo is important, it’s just a small element of your overall visual identity. It’s the design element you’re aware of most when interacting with the company.
Here are some logo design tips to keep in mind:
- Simplicity is key. Don’t use too many elements. Cut the clutter by keeping to the simplest forms and color. Keep your email address out of it!
- It should be scalable. A logo that works well at a large size is great, but the challenge comes when scaling down to a small size. Think embroidery on shirts, business cards, and so on.
- Never be a basic, um, logo. Never use standard typefaces without altering them and stay away from generic shapes unless they’re stylized. Make it uniquely yours. No drop shadows, either — I feel like this needs to be said.
Your Brand Is Your Visual Identity
Fiction! Had to throw in a curveball. No, you’re not the sum of your visually identity, either. Visual identity is also a crucial part of your brand. Consistency is key here. You wouldn’t want to interact with a person who was a inconsistent mess all the time — a person who constantly changes the “natural” tone of their voice or whose personality seems to constantly change. I would avoid that person at a party.
Your Brand Is a Living Thing
Fact! Your brand is a gut reaction to your products or services. How do people feel when they think about your company? The logo and visual identity are the support that should match your brand. This is all explained simply in the book The Brand Gap: “It is not who you say you are, it is who they say you are.” Your brand is determined by things like interactions with the company, ads, and charities the brand supports. Your brand is a living thing that grows and changes, just like any living thing. Nurture it with positive engagements with prospects, customers, and employees, and it will naturally grow through word of mouth.
Brands are not exclusive to companies. Every person has a personal brand. Your clothes, hair style, and sense of humor all tie into your visual identity. How your friends and family think of you — whether it’s positively or negatively — makes up your brand.
Be your true self. Whether you’re starting a new company or having an identity crisis, your brand is complex and at the core of who you truly are.