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A Logo is Meaningless Without These 4 Things
Logos get most of the attention in branding.
I get it – something about coming up with and adopting a new logo is just really fun.
But from a strategic point of view, your logo might not be as important as you think it is (at least not without the right support).
As a brand designer, I always stress that a logo on its own isn’t a brand. It’s a part of a complete brand system that is made up of many, many elements.
And then I stumbled on this video, which features a great explanation on why logos need a rich brand experience backing them up in order to really mean anything.
A logo on its own is just a graphic
Whether the logo is a wordmark, and illustration, or an icon – it’s just a visual. But when that visual is connected over and over again with a brand story, it becomes meaningful.
People begin associating that simple image with a feeling, a mission, or an idea. That’s when a logo becomes powerful.
How to make your logo a powerful part of your brand
FIRST, UNDERSTAND WHAT ROLE A LOGO PLAYS
If you’re branding (or rebranding) your business, don’t focus on the logo first. Your logo shouldn’t be the center of attention in the branding process. It comes after careful planning and mapping out a brand strategy. Your logo should take shape only after your brand has a solid foundation, and it should be a reflection of your brand not the starting point for your brand.
SECOND, THINK OF YOUR LOGO AS A LONG-TERM COMMITMENT
A logo starts out fairly meaningless. If you watched that video I linked at the beginning of this post, you’ll see how a logo becomes significant, recognized, and loved only after it’s been associated with a brand story. It’s not really about what the logo looks like, it’s about allowing your audience to begin associating that visual with what you stand for.
That’s not to say that a logo doesn’t need to look good or be well-designed – those things help shape people’s perception of your brand and help you make a good first impression. But in the end, it’s the strategy and the story behind your brand that will make your logo great.
So if a logo gets its meaning from a brand story, and a brand story is communicated with your audience over time through different brand experiences, than a logo needs to stick around in order to soak that all up.
The bottom line: don’t keep redesigning your logo. If your brand needs a refresh or you’re branding for the first time, take the time and resources to do it right so you’ll be able to stick with the results.
Your brand identity may need to be updated as time passes, but if you start with a great concept you’ll be able to carry the core of it through to the refreshed version so you can remain consistent.
Check out this old logo vs. new logo comparison of major brands – while some brands underwent a major change in brand identity, you’ll notice that most redesigns carried through the original theme.
THIRD, DESIGN YOUR LOGO TO REFLECT YOUR BRAND STORY
This means you don’t choose a font to use in your logo just because it’s pretty and you don’t build your brand color palette out of nothing but shades of blue because it’s your favorite color.
Your logo – and your whole visual brand identity – should be designed to reflect your audience, messaging, position in the marketplace, and brand personality.
FOUR, BRAND EVERYTHING
Put your visual brand on everything your audience and clients experience. This includes the obvious things like your website, your business cards, and your promotional materials.
But keep going – brand your invoices, your emails, your thank-you cards, your client welcome guides, your social media profiles. Brand everything. You’ll build more and more meaning into your logo as you associate it with everything your audience and customers experience.