Building Your Brand: It’s Much More Than a Logo

by Shannon Cheesman / Brand Identity

May 26, 2021

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As a small business owner, you might think that having a logo is all you need to illustrate your brand to the world. After all, it’s the most visible representation of your business, right?

Your logo is indeed a visual marker, but a brand is more than a logo.

WISE UI/Visual Designer Gloria Bonifazi Young has been working in the design space for over a decade. We tapped her expertise to dive into the topic of company logos and what it means to have a “brand” in our WISE Expert Q&A.

Q. What is the relationship between a logo and a brand?

  1. A. A logo is the most recognizable piece of visual identity for your brand. Therefore you need it. However, while a logo is a fundamental part of a brand, it is not the brand itself. It’s just the tip of the iceberg. A logo is the most condensed version of your brand that identifies your business in its simplest form.

Q. The terms “brand,” “brand identity,” and “branding” get thrown around quite a bit. What is the difference in the terminology, if any?

  1. A. A lot of people have different interpretations – especially in today’s world when it comes to the ways brands can be marketed. “Brand,” “branding,” and “brand identity” work together but have different functions and goals. One does not encompass the others, and I would keep them separate.

Brand = The Perception People Have About Your Business

Your brand is the meaning that the public attributes to your organization, product, or service. The clearer and recognizable this meaning, the stronger the perception of the brand. A strong brand stands out in a densely crowded marketplace.

Branding = How You Manage & Maintain That Perception

Branding to me is more closely related to marketing. Branding is the management of a brand’s meaning. Your brand speaks this way because you are targeting these people. It’s the way you communicate what your company is about with your target audience.

Brand Identity = The Visual Aspects of Your Brand

I identify brand identity as the visual expression of a brand. A brand has a visual identity that consists of compositions such as your logo, colors, fonts, style of images, and messaging. Brand identity is tangible and appeals to the senses. For example, if we’re talking about Nike, the images that populate our minds aren’t just the swoosh of the logo, but the tagline, the high-level athletes, grit, performance, and style.

Q. Why is all of this important for my business?

  1. A. Defining a brand identity (the visual aspects of your brand) for your business helps your consistency in branding (the marketing), which helps promote recognition. The key to any successful brand identity is consistency. If you don’t have consistency, you can’t have brand recognition. It just won’t last.

The biggest purpose of a brand identity is to have guidelines on using your visual assets to ensure this consistency. For example, let’s say you have a particular color representing your brand, but you don’t use it all the time. You are not creating a consistent look for your company, and you risk losing recognition. It seems simple, but I do see businesses not being visually consistent.

The key to any successful brand identity is consistency. If you don’t have consistency, you can’t have brand recognition. It just won’t last.

You spend money on branding (marketing your brand) to boost sales. It’s always about revenue. So if you invest in elevating your brand identity, it will help your branding, which will help you with recognition, which will help you with sales. It’s all tied together. Think of it this way – brand identity is a foundation that you build all your branding and marketing efforts on.

Of course, the conundrum is where do you put your money first – on brand building or marketing? To me, the two go hand in hand. The strategic demands of growth require establishing your identity not later but first and together with brand strategy.

Brand strategy is the process of understanding and defining who you are in order to promote yourself. Once you do that, you can go straight into marketing consistently using the brand identity guidelines created.

You also need to pivot amid economic shifts and market changes. Your brand identity and branding efforts always have to be revisited to make sure they align with the core of who you are.

Q. Can WISE help me refine my brand identity?

  1. A. Yes! We will look at what you have, starting with a brand strategy audit of where your brand stands and how to make it better, and follow through with refining guidelines that define your identity. Often logos are created just because they’re pretty, or it’s what the owner wanted, but that fails to scale well in digital applications. At WISE, we can redesign your logo, make it modern and high quality so that it plays well in the digital world, from your website across to all other marketing materials.

We’ll help further define your brand identity by developing your brand guidelines. We would look at the harmony around logos and fonts on your website, for example. We would define the style of imagery and other elements. And then we would put that together for you in a brand guideline book, which is essentially your IKEA manual to build your brand identity.

How We Rebranded National Home Loans

For National Home Loans, our team designed a complete rebranding. The new business name, formerly John G. Mortgage, better targets the desired audience, plays well with SEO keywords while providing scalability and future-proofing (the old name was bound to a single individual).

The new visual identity focuses on simplicity and recognition and appeals to the desired target audience of military home buyers and the general public.

Other customers have referenced this logo, saying they want something just like it. The logo is successful because simplicity works. Clarity is crucial in a logo since simple iconography is easier to remember, easier to scale, and works well in a large variety of mediums and color constraints.

How We Helped Farm Fresh Meals Go Beyond Local

Sometimes a business will want to expand beyond their local area, and we’ll help them look more like a prominent brand than a small, homemade business. Farm Fresh Meals is a good example of that. A new logo paired with high-quality photography transformed their brand identity into a slicker look and feel that implies a more established brand.

How We Gave Conscious Legal a Refresh

Other times, it’s simply polishing a brand identity to better convey the quality behind your service. For attorney Alanna Pearl with Conscious Legal, her logo looked good, but the website did not look polished. We changed the style of images and the website’s user flow and appearance, and now Conscious Legal has a more sophisticated look to match her legal expertise.

Ready for a Brand Identity Refresh?

Investing in polishing your brand identity, or launching a complete rebranding, can be a huge boost for your business. We’ve seen our clients’ revenue grow once we’ve elevated the visual aspects of their brand.

When you partner with WISE, you get the benefit of working with a team of brand strategy experts. This is our specialty! Contact us today to get started.

You may also like: Do I Need a New Website for My Business?

Written By

Shannon Cheesman

Shannon is the Senior Copywriter at WISE Digital Partners, a digital marketing agency based in San Diego, CA.

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