I get a little sick to my stomach when marketers and designers think the words logo and branding are interchangeable. Your logo is not your brand and your brand is so much more than your logo.
Three essential lessons you’ll learn in this article:
- What a brand is
- How a logo contributes to your brand
- How to improve your company without a new logo
What is a brand?
I am of the Marty Neumeier school of thought in that a brand is what your customers are saying about you. More than that, I believe your brand is the pivotal junction where who you say you are meets who your customers say you are.
You (a company, organization, or individual) put your best foot forward and then it’s up to your customers to determine how well you’re doing. Notice that nowhere in there did I say that your logo is your brand. Your logo is a visual representation of who you say you are – it’s your promise to your customers.
You logo is a visual representation of your brand promise
I continually find myself in the middle of a bloody battle about the use of logos. Just last month I was at a conference where three different speakers shared three completely different views on logos. Elizabeth Scarborough, CEO and partner at Simpson Scarborough, ignited the fire by saying that any department on a college campus that wants their own logo is undermining the overall value of the institution. Ouch.
Thankfully, Kelly Ruoff, partner and chief creative officer at Ologie, said that there are, in fact, places on a college campus where it is acceptable for individual departments to have their own logo. After all of that, President of UnMarketing, Scott Stratten closes the conference with a resounding, “No one cares about your logo.”
Does anyone care about your logo?
As usual, somewhere in the middle of that is where the answer lies. After the organization I worked for designed what I refer to as the first “finished” logo, I got anxiety thinking about giving people permission to use it. I wanted to keep it in a shoebox under my bed and only let it out when my department designed the materials.
What I can tell you now is that locking your logo away is absolutely no way to get buy-in from your coworkers or improve your brand image. I was placing far too much emphasis on the logo and not enough emphasis on what the logo actually represents. The logo represented hard work and our promise to our customers that we were going to do what we said we would do.
What happens after you develop your logo?
After you developed your logo with a solid foundation (heavily researched and designed by an actual graphic designer) I do agree that no one cares about it. Logos are a necessary evil. They have many advantages for a company, but those that don’t understand marketing cling to the logo like it’s a life raft when their company is sinking like a ship.
A new logo is not the answer to customer service issues. A ‘rebrand’ is not changing the font of your logo and you better believe that shoving a poorly designed logo down your employee’s throats is a sure fire way to burn some bridges. Put all of that wasted time and energy into improving your organization.
When our organization went through what we lovingly refer to as or Branding Project, we changed hiring practices, orientation and onboarding processes, training requirements, and educated our staff on what branding actually meant for our organization. We reminded the staff that customer interactions are more vital to our organization than a pretty image. Those are the essential components that have changed how we are perceived. The logo just comes along for the ride.
Do customers care?
So, whether or not anyone cares about your logo boils down to whether or not anyone cares about your organization. Customers will stay with you and your horrible logo, but they won’t stay with you and your horrible company.
This post was originally featured on SteamFeed.com.