Brand & Identity Design
Your brand is what people think of when they think about your company. It’s your reputation.
Branding, identity design, and logos: what’s the difference?
The terms logo, identity and brand are around in the industry all the time but it can be difficult to distinguish between them. These terms are very often used interchangeably even by well known companies and marketers. To begin distinguishing between these terms, it is important to define a spectrum. A logo is a part of your business, brand is what completely surrounds your business and visual identity falls somewhere in the middle. So let us understand what each terms means and how it should be used.
What is a brand?
Branding is certainly not a light topic – whole publications & hundreds of books have been written on the topic, however to put it in a nutshell you could describe a ‘brand’ as an organisation, service or product with a ‘personality’ that is shaped by the perceptions of the audience. On that note, it should also be stated that a designer cannot “make” a brand – only the audience can do this. A designer forms the foundation of the brand. Now think about apple for a moment and you will get an idea how branding works.
Many people believe a brand only consists of a few elements – some colors, some fonts, a logo, a slogan and maybe some music added in too. In reality, it is much more complicated than that. You might say that a brand is a ‘corporate image’.
As an example, let’s look at the well known IT company, Apple. Apple as a company, projects a humanistic corporate culture and a strong corporate ethic, one which is characterized by volunteerism, support of good causes & involvement in the community. These values of the business are evident throughout everything they do, from their innovative products and advertising, right through to their customer service. Apple is an emotionally humanist brand that really connects with people – when people buy or use their products or services; they feel part of the brand, like a tribe even. It is this emotional connection that creates their brand – not purely their products and a bite sized logo.
What is an identity?
One major role in the ‘brand’ or ‘corporate image’ of a company is its identity.
In most cases, identity design is based around the visual devices used within a company, usually assembled within a set of guidelines. These guidelines that make up an identity usually administer how the identity is applied throughout a variety of mediums, using approved color palettes, fonts, layouts, measurements and so forth. These guidelines ensure that the identity of the company is kept coherent, which in turn, allows the brand as a whole, to be recognizable. The identity or ‘image’ of a company is made up of many visual devices eg:
Logo, colors, fonts, icons, letterhead, business cards, envelopes, websites, packaging, uniforms, office aesthetics, promotional swag, social media, email blasts, signage, messaging.
A brand style guide is a document that records this identity. It keeps everyone on the right track, using the right fonts, colors, and more.
What is a logo?
To understand what a logo is, we must first understand what it is for. A logo is for… identification. A logo identifies a company or product via the use of a mark, flag, symbol or signature. A logo does not sell the company directly nor rarely does it describe a business. Logo’s derive their meaning from the quality of the thing it symbolizes, not the other way around – logos are there to identity, not to explain. In a nutshell, what a logo means is more important than what it looks like.
To illustrate this concept, think of logos like people. We prefer to be called by our names – Aman, – rather than by the confusing and forgettable description of ourselves such as “the guy who always wears black and has a turban”. In this same way, a logo should not literally describe what the business does but rather, identify the business in a way that is recognizable and memorable.
It is also important to note that only after a logo becomes familiar, does it function the way it is intended to do much alike how we much must learn people’s names to identify them. The logo identifies a business or product in its simplest form.
What do identity designers do?
Brand identity designers use strategy to create the visual elements of your brand. These elements include your logo, color palette, typography, image style, and general look and feel. These should be unique to your company. They should help illustrate your brand. An identity designer isn’t going to make the conveyor belt in your plant run faster or tell you which employees to hire. But we can influence the public’s perception of you by creating an appropriate, consistent look and feel.