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!
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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!
Let us help you create a brand identity that is as creative and unique as you are, and that captures the essence of your brand in a way that resonates with your audience.
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