Your Brand is More Than a Logo. Say It Again…!

A few years ago I was asked to re-brand an organization… in two months. You read that right, TWO MONTHS. I asked the CEO what he considered a re-branding. His answer, “A new logo and color palette.” My response: crickets.

I asked him why he wanted a new logo and he said,”I want people to view the organization differently – To expect something other than the norm.” Okay. That is a re-brand.

I sat down and asked questions about what his ideal impression of the organization would be, how does he envision customers interacting with the product, staff, web, social media; you know, all the touch points. It was completely different. I explained that this would be MUCH more than a logo. The logo and color palette would come after we define our brand promise, personality, and customer experience. AND, that would take longer than 2-months. He reluctantly agreed to the process.

What is a Brand?

To get here, I had to explain the difference between a logo and a brand. Many (and I mean MANY) people don’t understand the difference; even agencies and seasoned professionals. The best definition I have heard of a brand is from Marty Neumeier’s book, The Brand Gap: “A brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service, or organization.”

It is critical to differentiate that this is the perception of the product, service, or organization. Not the actual. You may have really great attributes, benefits or outcomes, but if they are not known, appreciated, or used that can affect your brand. It is about being strategic about how you present yourself and what makes you better than the other guy: your competitive advantage.

What is a Logo?

A logo can have many names – brand mark, icon, trademark – but it is all the same way of saying the graphic representation of your company. It is a very important component to your brand, it is your visual identifier. The way that people differentiate you visually from your competitors. When you see golden arches, you think of McDonalds; when you see the red bullseye, you think of Target. What else do you think about when you see those logos?

For me, when I see the golden arches, I think of hot and salty french fries, rarely getting my special hamburger order right, and LOTS of kids in the play area. When I think of the red bullseye, I think of spending hours wandering wide aisles full of fun things, seeing customer service associated when I need them, and not when I don’t.

My perception of those logos contributes to the brand.

Is One More Important?

These two truly go hand in hand. You want your logo and brand to complement each other. Ultimately though, your success is driven by emotion. What is the first thing that comes to mind when someone interacts with your company? Is it positive, negative, ambivalent?

When someone sees your logo, rarely do you have someone say, “I love WXY product, but hate their logo.” It’s more of a, “I love WXY product.” There is no mention of a logo. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the reverse. I know when I see a logo of a brand I dislike, I have a reaction. Sometimes a strong one.

The point is, a strong logo helps your brand identify, but it needs to be supported by so much more. If you are looking at re-branding, it is important to examine WHY. Is it crisis management? Has sales started to take a dive? Are you adjusting to market changes? Is it to explain changes in the way you interact with your customers? Whatever it is, make sure you have outlined how you want your customer to feel about your company and/or product. Then go into the fun creative stuff.

I know I get all excited about designing new letterhead. Just me? Oh.

Was this was helpful. If it wasn’t, let me know. Have anything to add? Use the comments section or connect with me at @JenAalgaard or on LinkedIn.