What is the difference between a logo and brand identity?

When it comes to branding, there’s often confusion about the difference between a logo and brand identity. Although they are related, they are not the same thing. In this blog post, we’ll define the words brand and branding, explore the differences between a logo and brand identity, and check out some recognizable examples. Let’s get started!

In this blog post, we’ll define the words brand and branding, explore the differences between a logo and brand identity, and check out some recognizable examples. Let’s get started!

 

Defining Brand and Branding

Nowadays, we are all familiar with the term “brand”, but what does it actually mean?

The meaning of the term “brand” has consistently evolved over time and is still arguably evolving. A quick search on the internet will provide various definitions by industry leaders with some definitions overlapping and some contradicting each other. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary doesn’t help much either, with definitions that range from “a mark made by burning with a hot iron”, “a class of goods identified by name as the product of a single firm or manufacturer”, and “a public image, reputation, or identity conceived of as something to be marketed or promoted”. Gah! These are all quite different and feel difficult to make sense of.

In the end, I feel the definition created by Boltgroup is the most accurate and easiest to understand:

 

“A brand is the sum total of all visual and non-visual, verbal and non-verbal, tangible and non-tangible elements that help to identify, form, create, and influence unique and positive associations for a product, service, or entity that differentiates it from its competition, creating meaning, value, and preference in one’s mind.

 

Therefore, to consciously and intentionally create preference and differentiation in your customer’s mind, is the act of branding.

Now that we have a basic understanding of what a brand and branding are, let’s discuss the differences between a logo and brand identity!

 

A logo is a visual symbol of a company or organization and is often the most recognizable aspect of a brand. It is like a vessel that holds the key pieces of your brand identity together and should be designed in a way that symbolically summarizes your company, while offering cues for additional core assets, like patterns and graphics. Logos can be simple or more complex (within reason), but they must be able to convey the essence of a brand in a single image and be adaptable to various applications.

 

What is Brand Identity?

Brand identity, on the other hand, consists of the entire visual aspects of a brand. It includes the logo, as well as all other visual elements that represent the brand:

  • Name + Tagline:
    The name and tagline of a brand are often the first things customers see and interact with! Therefore, it’s important to make them memorable, unique, and give an idea of your brand’s values, personality and offerings.
  • Logo + Logo Variations:
    A logo is a visual representation of a brand’s identity. It’s like a “vessel”, holding the key pieces of your brand identity together and should be designed in a way that inspires the direction of additional core assets, like patterns and graphics.
  • Color Palette + Fonts:
    The color scheme and fonts used by a brand can greatly affect its perception and recognition. They can make your business feel more serious, playful, trustworthy, down-to-earth and more.
  • Core Graphics:
    Examples: Patterns, Iconography, Illustration Style, Photography Style + More
    Style of core graphics is an excellent opportunity to showcase your values and personality. They also help you stand out and represent your business without having to slap a logo on everything.
  • Digital Assets:
    Examples: Website, Social Media, Emails, Digital Ads + More
    Your digital assets are an extension of your brand’s identity and are frequently what customers interact with. These should utilize your core graphics to increase brand recognition and engagement.
  • Print Assets:
    Examples: Business Cards, Flyers, Packaging + More
    Print assets are a tangible representation of your brand that can communicate messages without words. The textures, materials, size, and presentation of print pieces should reflect your brand’s personality, values, and quality.

 

Brand identity is an essential aspect of branding. It helps create a consistent and cohesive image of a brand that consumers can identify and remember. A well-designed brand identity can help a brand stand out in a crowded market and build brand recognition and a feeling of preference in the prospective customer’s mind.

 

 

The Difference Between a Logo and Brand Identity

Remember how I said a logo is like a vessel? Think of a logo (including its name and tagline) as just a vase, while brand identity is the whole vase with flowers. Let’s break this down…

A logo is like a beautiful vase. It can be nice to look at on its own and act as a piece of decoration, but a large part of its purpose is missing when there aren’t any flowers in it. Likewise, all the other elements of a brand identity are like a unique arrangement of cut flowers and greenery, but those flowers and plants will wither without a vase to put them in. Only when you combine a vase and flowers can both pieces thrive and fulfill their purpose.

The primary difference between a logo and brand identity is that a logo is just one part of a brand identity. While a logo is typically the most recognizable aspect of a brand and influences other design aspects of the brand, it is not the only visual element that represents the brand. Brand identity encompasses all the visual elements that make up a brand’s image.

 

5 Recognizable Examples: Logo vs. Brand Identity

Below I’ve collected 5 examples of recognizable brands that show you their isolated logo alongside clippings from each companies’ brand guidelines. This will help you see how these two pieces of your branding are both different and interconnected, but not one in the same.

Please note that I am not affiliated with any of the companies that I have reviewed and these opinions are my own.

 

1. Hulu

The Hulu logo is clean, simple, and uses a singular bright green color. Each letter is made up of interchangeable pieces (the “h” is made up of an upside-down “u” and an “l”), giving it a geometric, smart, and structured feeling. The logo feels both bold and friendly due to the combination of thick lines with rounded edges. It is easy to recognize and remember. However, the logo alone does not account for the entirety of their brand identity.

 

 

The image above displays various design elements that Hulu designers have implemented. Some examples include:

  • Consistent use of rounded edges, inspired by the shape of the “u” in Hulu. This design element frames headlines and words.
  • A defined color palette that includes a gradient style and secondary colors that complement show and movie imagery (e.g. see Deadpool image).
  • A clear hierarchy of the Hulu logo for different applications, including Hulu Logo vs Hulu Badge, and Hulu Originals vs Hulu + Live TV.
  • Different font stylings for advertisements, depending on the type of content. This helps create variety in designs while maintaining consistency. For example, All Caps Bold Italics for Sports, All Caps Bold for Entertainment, and Sentence Case Regular for News.
  • Real-world examples that demonstrate the brand identity in use, helping future designers understand how to keep the brand identity consistent.

 

 

2. Ben & Jerry’s

The Ben & Jerry’s logo resembles a hanging wooden sign, which gives it an aged and reliable feel. Its rounded letters, particularly the ampersand and J, create a friendly and playful vibe that echoes the curves of a scoop of ice cream. The rough line quality of the yellow border nods toward a handmade and homegrown feeling. However, anyone who has ever tasted Ben & Jerry’s ice cream knows that the company is so much more than just its logo!

 

 

When looking at the compilation of brand assets above, this is what most people think of when they think of Ben & Jerry’s. You think of lots of color, playful imagery, and flavor-packed ice cream. Let’s break down how Ben & Jerry’s has expanded beyond their logo to create a cohesive brand identity:

  • They greatly expanded their color palette by introducing blue and green, and also created an entire suite of secondary colors. They explain how these colors are to be used in correlation with the flavor names on their ice cream pints and for accents in illustrations.
  • They created a sky and grass visual that is used across all of their ice cream packaging to create a consistent look across all products.
  • They expanded on the wood sign imagery from their logo to create a suite of wooden signs that are used as callouts on ice cream containers, web designs, and ads, and also as background textures.
  • They created examples of illustrations in a hand-drawn style using lots of colors to reinforce their playful persona.
  • They laid out a variety of flyer and advertisement designs as templates.
  • They showed examples of how they display their flavors and ingredients in what they call “Flavor Towers.”

 

 

3. Slack

The Slack logo strikes a nice balance between approachable and professionalism. The logo type is straightforward with less styling and a traditional black color. However, its lowercase and rounded nature give it a more friendly feeling. The logo mark is also more friendly due to its use of color and rounded edges, but still manages to feel professional due to its symmetry.

The logo mark emphasizes communication and people. It looks like speech bubbles or text message bubbles, referencing the communication aspect of the app. The use of different colors shows that different people or groups are communicating with each other. Additionally, it can abstractly look like people throwing their arms out with excitement or like a hashtag.

 

 

When analyzing the above image, you can observe how Slack has expanded its brand identity through various examples, such as:

  • Multiple examples of their illustration style, including how they are applied in website design
  • Their own set of iconography and its application in website design
  • The use of shapes from their logo mark to create colorful graphic backgrounds and patterns(e.g. “Where work happens”)
  • A breakdown of their font hierarchy

 

 

4. Twitch

The Twitch logo has a digital feel and uses a bright, eye-catching shade of purple that sets it apart from other online social platforms. The font has a geometric feel that appears to be inspired by 8 or 16-bit design styles, nodding towards old school game design, which would appeal more to their gamer audience. The extruded style gives it a sense of movement and a super-hero feeling.

 

 

The Twitch brand values its users over their own branding, but they still created various design elements to ensure consistency across promotions. These elements include:

  • Displaying a wide range of secondary colors in both muted and vibrant shades, and demonstrating how these colors can be combined and used in the extruded version of their logo in ads as gradients.
  • Nodding towards their fun, gif-like nature with repeating photography and emojis.
  • Emphasizing their personality with phrases like “not everyone’s going to get it” and their custom font, “Twitch Roobert”.
  • Featuring photos of famous Twitch users in their ads as examples.

 

 

5. Strava

The Strava logo features a customized typographic design in a burnt orange color, setting it apart from other fitness and outdoor apps and brands. The customized “A” and “V” give the impression of upward and downward movement, as well as representing navigation arrows from a compass. They could also be interpreted as abstract representations of mountains, symbolizing the emotional and physical challenges that Strava’s users overcome.

 

 

Their branding guidelines provide additional assets that expand on their brand identity. These assets include:

  • A separated logo mark with various colors and usage examples. The guidelines also show how the Strava logo can be used on promotional assets.
  • An expanded color palette with color names inspired by the types of ground their users might be running on.
  • An icon suite with examples of how to apply them to products and advertisements.
  • Examples of Instagram templates that demonstrate how to use the color palette and typography treatments.

 

Bring your brand identity to life today

Understanding the differences between a logo and brand identity is crucial for any business looking to create a strong and cohesive brand image. By developing a well-designed brand identity, businesses can stand out in a crowded market and build brand recognition and customer loyalty.

At Joyage Studio, we understand the importance of creating a unique and memorable brand that resonates with not only your audience, but also you! Our comprehensive branding and logo design process is consciously crafted to help you create a strong and cohesive brand identity that sets you apart from the competition and allows you to confidently share your offerings with the world.

Contact us today to schedule your free discovery call!

 

 

 

 

 

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