Why a logo does not a brand make...

There‘s a lot more to ‘branding’ your business than just having a logo designed.

Of course, your business ‘brand’ includes your logo – the graphic representation of your business. But a brand extends far further than your logo. Properly executed, a brand represents not only the visual image of your business (which includes stationery, printed and online documents, signage graphics and livery), it epitomises business values and can even tell the story of the business.

To establish a brand with real credibility (read ‘value’) it‘s necessary to do some background work. The most important work is defining what the business promises its customers, which obviously includes the business's core values, its culture, relationships, and the experience it offers its customers. With any luck there will be a Significant Point of Difference (SPOD) that sets your business apart from its competitors in there as well. Only once these factors have been set in place will it be time to begin the 'visual identity' part of the brand – the exciting ‘look and feel’ that encapsulates these public face of the business. And, naturally, this second phase of branding, the ‘visual’ part, will include the design of the logo. How can you come up with a credible logo that will stand the test of time if you haven‘t done this groundwork?

The visual representation of your business doesn‘t end with the logo. It will also include the specification of a complementary type family (or families). It should include style guidelines of supporting images and graphics. I‘m not saying don‘t use stock photography if that’s all your budget extends to, just consider the types of photography that you do use and try to select images with a similar colour palette and style that ‘fit’ with your brand values. The same rules apply when using ‘clip art’.  And, if the source of your clip art is the Microsoft Office suite of programmes, be aware that most people will have access to this artwork and they will know, immediately, where your ‘free clip art’ came from. This, in itself, can cheapen or damage your brand!

Another, often overlooked, aspect of branding is the written word. Be consistent in all communications across all media. The story you are telling when presenting your product or service should be expressed in the same language. Make sure that the key words that describe your business, product and service are repeated in the same manner (this is particularly important on your website). Capitalise and hyphenate words in a consistent style, wherever they are used. Use peer review and spell checking to make sure that your written words are well-chosen and letter-perfect. It often pays to get a trusted outsider, such as a professional proofreader, to vet your content before publishing especially when working on major documents or campaigns. The care that you take with this aspect of your brand says a lot about the importance you put on your business message, and clearly communicating this message to outsiders.

Marketing guru Seth Godin describes it best:

A ‘brand’ is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another. If the consumer (whether it’s a business, a buyer, a voter or a donor) doesn’t pay a premium, make a selection or spread the word, then no brand value exists for that consumer.”