People come to us to design logos. It is the favorite part of my job and an integral part of an organization’s visual brand. It is also the easiest branding component for people to understand. Logos are tangible assets, and their creation is a fairly simple dialogue between client and designer.
But a logo isn’t a brand.
“Branding” is a much more challenging conversation. If you ask ten people what a brand is, you’ll likely get ten different answers (with one of them saying, “it’s my logo.”) That is because at the highest level, your brand is a feeling created by perceptions. You can’t see it, or touch it. It’s difficult to define and talk about. For that reason, your brand only really exists in the minds of your audience.
However, these perceptions are shaped and supported by tangible (often fixed) brand components – from your mission, vision and values (inside culture) to your name, logo and tagline (and countless things in between). All of these components work together to position your brand, forming perceptions out in the world.
What if the Apple logo had a bite out of the left side, instead of the right? Would you even notice? If you did, what would you think? Would you trust that it was the same company or some knock-off? Sure, it’s an overly simplified example, but the point is that it’s too easy to alter feelings and perceptions if there is no consistency and unity within the fixed brand components. You need to get your story straight.
Enter Brand Guidelines.
They are called by many names and have varying definitions; Brand Guidelines, Brand Book, Identity Guidelines, Brand Standards or Brand Bible. You can see some examples here. Essentially they all have the same purpose; they are the rules for implementation of your brand. They define and dictate the usage of all of your tangible brand elements (logo, color, typography, imagery style guide, messaging, tone of voice, etc.)
A brand without a logo has no face. A brand without guidelines has no integrity.
Integrity is about understanding, managing and communicating your brand story consistently to all audiences. It’s not just about framing your promise, it relates directly to fulfilling it. And that is a huge step in guiding perceptions about your brand in the real world.
I’ll still gladly design your logo, but I’d much prefer to tell your whole story.