A pair of Nike trainers showing the Nike logo


Branding is just a logo, right?

In a word, No!

It’s such a common misconception though! An attention-grabbing, memorable logo is so often one of the first things startups want. You might need something tidy for your business cards when you are trying to hit up potential prospects or secure funding. This initial logo is often very literal and takes inspiration from the brand name, which is possibly where the confusion stems from. Your brand name is not your brand. And it is not purely the visual representation of that brand name—your logo—that is your brand. Often an initial logo will be revisited and updated as the business expands or changes. This may be due to an increase in funding, a change of target market, or a sharpening into focus of where the company is headed.

An example of this scenario is the brand redesign for ‘the Kitty Cafe’—a cat rehoming charity in Nottingham fronted by a cafe where visitors can play with prospective companions. As a small startup, initially their branding wasn’t the most versatile or modern. However, as they have expanded into Leeds on the wave of a keen female market with an appetite for the cute and cuddly, their new logo is perfect for a bubbly, fun brand and perfect for commercial use.

Kity Cafe Image

So what is meant by 'your brand'?

A brand is how a company is perceived. What is the user’s experience of that service or product? How does it make them feel? What do they associate with it? This can be influenced by tangible experiences, from an in-store experience or the packaging of a product, to how intuitive it is to use. It can be a more abstract association, a human connection between your product and your purchaser. One can of course influence the other. A web page that is easy to navigate, with top notch and friendly customer service, alongside a light conversational tone is immediately going to invoke family and warmth. It says, ‘We care’ and ‘We want to help you’, and this voice becomes a part of your brand.

Companies such as Innocent Drinks are excellent at this. They have a fun and quirky brand voice which is implemented across their online platforms, including social media. Their posts are colourful and chatty and tie in with their childlike, friendly brand which puts emphasis on wellbeing and good health. This is reinforced with funny details on their packaging and campaigns such as ‘The Innocent Big Knit’ which encourages people to get together and knit little hats to go on Innocent Smoothies. This helps combat loneliness in those older people taking part, and raises money for AgeUK through some of the sales proceeds. And no doubt, it will boost Innocent’s smoothie sales throughout the winter.

The brand incorporates all aspects of the business. A clear set of branding guidelines gives a company continuity and consistency, not just in its visual identity; it should tie in with its goals and values, reflecting them in the way it communicates and interacts with its user base. The brand gives directions and sets boundaries, providing a clear indication when something is not a good fit.

Innocent Drink Image

So why do people focus on the logo?

The logo’s role is a visual hook to hang all this on. A memorable icon or wordmark that works like a ringing Pavlovian bell. You see it, you remember and you have been marketed too. A good logo invokes the brand and represents it in a concise, visual way. It’s incredibly important because of the strength of association it carries for the brand—just look at the outcry following the change in logo for Formula 1®.

It’s like a concentrated dose of the brand in one small visual capsule. It is everything behind that logo—the weight of a well thought through visual language and how it applies in various contexts of communication—that allow it to pack such a mighty punch!

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