You may even have some questions, such as:
- What is the difference between a logo and a brand?
- How do I achieve a visual brand that represents my company?
- How do I know if I’m making smart design choices?
- Is there anything else I need besides a logo?
- How long does this process take?
You aren’t the first person to wonder about these things.
We often hear different clients asking the same questions at the beginning of their branding journey. So, in the rest of this article, we will address these questions to give you the confidence you need to begin.
1. What is the difference between a logo and a brand?
Before designing your logo, taking a few steps back is essential. The first thing to decide is the goals of your brand and, within that, the purpose of your logo. So let’s talk about what a brand is and how it differs from a logo.
First, your logo is a symbol or graphic element that identifies your organization’s products or services. It acts as a visual shortcut for your customers, a symbol representing your brand as a whole. The logo is just one piece of your brand framework and a larger marketing picture.
In contrast, your brand is the foundation on which the rest of your marketing, including the logo, is built. Your company’s brand is the combination of all the tangible and intangible things that represent who your organization is. Your brand influences how your company looks, sounds, and acts. It’s the heartbeat of all your marketing.
Without a robust underlying brand, a logo remains an isolated symbol. A good brand infuses your logo with meaning, purpose, and emotion. To create a logo, you need to think about the visual part of your brand.
We help our clients find their visual brand and use it effectively by creating an identity system. The identity system contained in a Brand Guide document explains how the entire visual brand will look, function, and communicate. The Brand Guide covers visual branding tools such as their logo, fonts, colors, and more, ensuring they all fit together to form one clear picture of your business.
2. How do I achieve a visual brand that represents my company?
We always start with a few foundational questions: What are your core beliefs, and how do they drive the actions of your organization?
These core beliefs are the life force of your brand, so much so that we often refer to them as your brand’s DNA. They should inform every decision you make about your visual brand because the colors on your website, the look of your logo, and even the photos you use all send a message about who your business is.
You can ensure your visual brand showcases your answers by asking yourself your core beliefs.
3. How Do I Know if I’m Making Smart Design Choices?
Simplicity is smart, and with branding, less is often more – The more you add, the more you risk distracting from your core message.
As an exercise, we’ll mention a few iconic logos: The McDonald’s golden arches. The Nespresso wordmark. The Nike swoosh. The Mercedes emblem. The Google G. You can likely picture these in your mind immediately. They probably evoke emotions when you see them on the street.
This recognition and attachment exist not because of elaborate logos but because of your personal or cultural experience with the company. In short, it’s because of the brand as a whole. On their own, logos don’t mean much. And neither do other individual parts of a visual brand. But when combined with a great message and product, they represent the experiences customers have with the brand. As a result, these visual elements take on a life of their own.
So, is your logo forgettable or memorable? If your logo doesn’t contribute to your brand’s message in its simplest form— without your tagline, colors or gradients, or product photography— it probably isn’t a strong mark. We recommend stripping away those “extras” when beginning a logo’s design to help you see its strengths and weaknesses.
A great logo is like a great pop song; It doesn’t need a 10-piece band and a choir to make its point. All a great pop song needs is one voice (and maybe an accompanying instrument). Like a song, a logo should be able to catch your attention in its most minimal form.
4. Is there anything else I need besides a logo?
As mentioned before, the logo is one of many design elements to consider within your brand framework. Here are other factors that play a crucial role in your visual brand:
Colors play a significant role in how your brand is perceived. A color is never just a color. Colors hold meaning and emotion. And in different cultures and contexts, those can change. Be mindful of what the audience will interpret from your design, consciously and unconsciously.
For example, in the US, you wouldn’t want to use bright red for a meditation app. For many people, red is an aggressive, intense color that can signal passion, anger, or danger. So instead of red, a calming shade of green or blue would be more fitting for your meditation app.
Fonts determine how every word appears and hold significant power over how people interpret those words.
Fonts have many categories, but the two most significant are —serif and sans serif. Serif fonts have serifs, or tiny tails or strokes, on the ends of each letterform. Sans serif (meaning without serifs) fonts do not. As a result, serif fonts like Georgia usually look more traditional, and sans serif fonts, such as Helvetica, typically look more modern.
For example, Times New Roman is a traditional serif font. While it might work for a brand that must portray conventionalism and consistency, there are better font options for a visual brand focused on originality and innovation.
Choosing your brand’s font is a choice at the intersection of message and style, so we help our clients select fonts that best enhance the message they want to tell.
Since human eyes are attracted to images over words, choosing all your pictures carefully, whether photos, icons, or other graphics, is essential.
Let’s focus specifically on photos for a moment. All images are not created equal. Do you know the old saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words”? If we could, we would update it to, “An *exceptional, well-chosen* photo is worth a thousand words.”
Great photos enhance your marketing materials and further your message. Underwhelming photography and tired stock photos will fail to communicate the message you want to send and hinder your chances of reaching your audience. Second-rate images make you look like a second-rate business.
It’s crucial to take the necessary time to choose your images carefully and hire professionals to do any product photography you may need.
5. How Long Will It Take?
Creating your visual brand is exciting, and you may be eager to start immediately. But in the middle of all the excitement, we encourage you to resist the urge to rush through this process.
Working with a branding agency that can guide you in creating a visual brand that fully represents your business is not something to take lightly. Your business is too important to take shortcuts during this process – it’s possible that hiring your nephew’s college friend who “knows Photoshop” isn’t the right call (believe us, we’ve seen it all 😆). You will save time, money, and headache if you take the time to do it right.
So, to set yourself up for success, you’ll want to plan time for creative exploration and set realistic deadlines and launch dates. The design team you work with should tell you what exact timeline to expect in your first few conversations.
With our Brand Intensive, we have fine-tuned our process to generate incredible results in weeks when most agencies take months. If you’re interested, please reach out, and we’ll schedule a call to see if we’re a right fit for you.
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Hopefully, this has answered a few of your questions about creating your logo. Whether you work with us or with another firm, we hope you’re more empowered to make the best branding decisions for your company.
If you’re interested in hiring us to build your visual brand, book a free 20-minute strategy call.