What is logo design branding and identity

A brand is not branding, a logo is not a brand and an identity is somewhere in between.

Branding is often used as the overarching term when people talk about their logo, but it’s far more than that.

In this article, we explain how we define the various terms and what each one means.

What is a logo?

Let’s start with the most basic of the three.

If you talk to us about a logo design project, that’s exactly what we’re going to discuss; your logo.

A logo design is simply that; the design of a logo for your business or product.

The logo design project will generally encompass the following:

  • Fonts and colours (for the logo)
  • Icons or any graphic elements (used on the logo)
  • The overall design of the logo
  • The incorporation of a strapline (providing you supply it)

Anything that goes outside of this list is more than a logo design project.

For example, if you need us to come up with a strapline for your business, we’re getting into the realms of branding.

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What is identity?

Identity is the creative application of your logo across your marketing materials.

In the most simple case, this is your letterhead, business cards and signage.

More complex identities, like the one we developed for the Elton John Aids Foundation, take the logo (which we didn’t design) and develop a visual identity around it to ensure that everything looks consistent.

Corporate identity guidelines help to map out what everything could or should look like, and these can be simple (fonts, colours, typography etc) or they can be very in-depth and take in virtually every piece of communication your business creates.

An identity project takes in things like:

  • Stationery design
  • Livery
  • Signage
  • Social media graphics
  • Brochures and reports
  • Marketing ephemera
  • Slide decks
  • Presentations
  • Internal documents
  • And so on

Of course, some of these items will take their lead from your branding.

For example, if your branding is fun, approachable and informal, the copy and imagery used during the development of your identity will follow suit.

This is one main reason why developing an identity without a firm grasp on your branding can be style over substance.

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What is a branding project?

As we see it, branding takes in far more than just what your logo looks like.

As in the strapline example above, if we are getting into stuff about what your business does or stands for, we are into more of a branding project.

Branding projects can cover off many different aspects of your company including (but not limited to):

  • Your mission, vision and values
  • Your oneliness statement
  • Tone of voice
  • Use of imagery
  • Your strapline
  • How you answer the phone
  • How you talk directly to customers
  • What you stand for (social and environmental factors for example)
  • How you conduct yourself
  • What do you feel like
  • What you believe in
  • and so on…

To this end, branding is far more than just what you look like; it’s how you sound, what you stand for and how you conduct yourself.

Many companies sort out a lot of this stuff themselves, but it should form part of your branding, whoever does it.

Without a clear definition of all things brand-related, you can leave stuff open to interpretation and assumption.

Branding touches every element of your tangible self and it’s up to you how much of that you lockdown and how much of it you make up on the spot.

Don’t confuse branding with brands.

Unilever is a good example of one company with lots of brands.

A brand, in this case, is a product within the company’s portfolio – it’s a retail term to describe the products owned by Unilever; Domestos, Ben & Jerry’s, Toni&Guy, for example.

These are brands that have individual branding in their own right.

Brands are often household names, and if you want to get to that point for your company, product or service, it’s going to take some serious investment in not only your branding but also your marketing and advertising.

Get branding from Toast

To conclude.

Whilst all these terms are often used on an interchangeable basis, they carry very different price tags, so if you want a logo designed, don’t ask for a branding project or we’ll assume you want the whole thing.

Branding is generally used to encompass everything from your logo to your identity, and in truth, a well-delivered branding project should include everything.

Any good branding agency will help you work out what the best approach is for your project, and we often find it’s a bit of a mix of everything to start with.

The most important part of any logo, branding or identity project is an initial conversation and a well-written brief to outline the objectives.

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Not sure what sort of project you need?

Get in touch for an informal chat about you, your business and your branding needs. Call us on 01295 266644 or complete the form and we'll get in touch.

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