Why Can't I Just Have A Logo?
Brand Importance & Building a Brand Identity
As a designer, I am often asked why all the “extra stuff” is necessary when creating a logo. It used to bemuse me, but I quickly realized there is a difference between informed clientele choosing “just a logo” and clients who simply need to be educated. Businesses are not against building stable identities; the goal is always a solid brand. However, the questions to ask may not be known to many people who are not familiar with the field of design. As a designer, part of my job is to educate companies and small businesses about branding and what it can do for an organization that a logo alone cannot.
So, I ask questions and pose answers as a designer would:
What is branding?
Brand design is the conscious decision to produce a seamless, unified experience for the consumers. It is the combination and simultaneous execution of company goals, products, appearance, accessibility, and interaction. Branding is consistency and purpose; it is how your audience perceives you.
An identity touches every piece of material produced or associated with the company. Whether it be the website, packaging, small ads, pieces of paper, tweets, articles, images shared, or a verbal response to a customer — the brand must carry the identity through. The same voice and look must remain apparent. A brand is one entity, no matter how many people are behind the scenes.
So, what elements do I need to build a brand?
Let’s start with a simple fact: a logo is not a brand. With certainty, a logo is part of a brand, but a logo does not create a brand. A complete and successful brand encompasses everything a business produces; therefore, you need all the essentials to start off well. Everything should remain consistent and fluent, regardless of who these items pass through.
Here are the essentials and why they are important:
Goals: While designers cannot provide a goal or mission statement, we may be able to help you pinpoint the direction. Discussing your goals with your designer not only helps us but, also, helps you and the business. The clearer and more stable the company objectives are, the more accurately we can translate them through branding.
Logo: A logo, logotype, or combination mark will become your trigger over time. It is what instills the memory of your brand in the minds of your consumers. Your logo represents your brand in its entirety.
Brand Guide: This includes approved fonts, colors, imagery, logo use and misuse, and how/where to use these elements. View my brand guide as an example. These rules are extremely important for instilling cohesion and consistency.
For easier access and user-friendliness, I encourage clients to build an unlinked identity page within their website to easily send or retrieve all materials for proper brand usage. This eliminates large attachments, emails, and scouring your computer for files.
Letterhead, PowerPoint, and Word Templates: Documents exist in every company. Having set templates keeps creating new documents and presentations uncomplicated. Employees should be creating seamlessly uniform pieces of material every time.
Business Card Templates: Avoid differences in business card designs. At the start of a company, this can be difficult as the titles, look, and voice may all still be under alteration. Business cards should be designed after your goals, logo, and brand guide are determined and complete to avoid constant changes or multiple revisions.
Formatted Social Media Platform Imagery: Properly sizing and coordinating social media profile and banner imagery can make a huge impact on how professional your establishment appears. First impressions are everything and pixelated and/or stretched imagery is amateurish and will inhibit the business's image. Presently, the public sees social media first and flaunting a blurry logo does not leave your target audience with the promise of quality.
Website: The web is where users search for you. Your company’s website is where your brand should be displayed in the purest way. The movement, transitions, fonts, artwork, and content should all fluently reflect the brand voice and company goals. Enhance SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and be sure the website is responsive. This means it looks good and functions properly on any device.
So…why can’t I have just a logo, again?
Design without purpose is not design. A logo without its partnering materials is without purpose; it has nothing supporting it. There is no backup and no reinforcement to stabilize any sort of identity. A logo by itself lacks unity with the rest of the marketing and, therefore, lacks relevance.
If you ask a handful of graphic designers, I am confident the majority will reveal that much of their clientele required new logos. Rebranding can be the outcome of rapidly advancing goals or changes in the target audience, but it is most commonly a result of poor initial design and foresight.
My advice: Do it right the first time. Work with a brand designer and avoid the financial and corporate setback of multiple designs. Brand designers regard your company with matched devotion and we know the right questions to ask and how to answer them. An expert approach really is worth the investment.