Logos are designed. Brands are made.

You’re about to start a business and you’ve decided you need a “logo”. Or is it a “brand” you’re after? It’s not uncommon to hear both words used as if they mean the same thing, but here’s why they don’t and why you should care.

In everyday use the word “brand” is a reference to a product or an organization that has a recognizable style and reputation, everything that makes it different from the competition. Ask most people and they will be happy to reveal their favourite brands or exercise an opinion about brands they don’t like. They are unlikely to have much to say about brands that are almost invisible to them. These brands may be ones they think they have no interest in…but in many cases it’s the brands that have no interest in them.

When setting up a new enterprise it is easy to talk about a “brand” when “logo” is what is actually meant. A logo can be a combination of elements; like the company or product name in a certain typeface, in a specific colour, probably with a graphic device and sometimes accompanied by a strapline.

Think of a logo as just one working item within the complex contraption that makes up an identity…and think of an identity as only a part of what constitutes a brand overall. It is essential that this highly concentrated point of design, the logo, is in synch with all the other things that form the brand’s structure. Naturally this includes and can even depend on the brand strategy.

Without a strategy behind it, a logo alone cannot even begin to grow into a brand. And unless the strategy is an effective one, a proposed brand is in little danger of ever becoming anyone’s favourite.

A business or organisation’s brand is a product of everything it does and all that it communicates. While this includes the logo design and branding materials, there are also the advertising and public relations activities that it uses in an attempt to manage how it is perceived. Crucially it is customer experience through the quality of goods, staff behavior and word of mouth that can be the most critical factors.

The graphic design process that results in a logo may be an essential feature of branding but what finally creates a real brand is customer and audience experience. The experience will have an emotional connect as much as (and sometimes much more than) a rational one. The constant observation and response to a logo will depend on its design quality and relevance, visual durability and thoughtfulness of application.

The key to getting the logo application right is a set of design rules usually called Brand Guidelines. These are comprehensive, easy-to-follow and accurate instructions for the logo and the other brand elements so that they are always used correctly and consistently. All the appropriate media is covered along with precise colour specifications in different technologies, fonts, layouts and even fundamental items like stationery, which can include artwork templates.

And so, what is it you need? Is it a comprehensive brand design service? A design team that knows how to respond to an existing brand strategy? A marketing design partner that can help you develop one? Will you eventually require application designs or brand guidelines?

When you consider that we’ve been in the business for over 35 years it’s not surprising that we have created literally hundreds of new brands and logos (and made great improvements to some old ones). Not only have we witnessed extraordinary changes in the world of communications design, we also played a significant part in making them.

And after all that, guess what? We still love the excitement and surge of creative anticipation that happens when a new client makes contact.