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It is a common misconception that a company’s logo is the same as its brand. Unfortunately, branding and marketing aren’t that simple. Design encompasses more than a corporate logo and branding extends beyond design elements.
However, without the design, it is highly doubtful that the big brands would have the power they currently wield with consumers. The same is true when you modify the equation. Left without other critical branding elements, the design alone would struggle to fill a void. Together, design and branding are powerful allies that can help brands stand out from their competitors.
From brand to design
Branding is the process of building a brand for a business or organization. A brand includes the physical characteristics of a product or service as well as the expectations and beliefs surrounding the brand. It is therefore a combination of material elements and the emotional reaction that these elements provoke in an audience.
Design is an essential part of brands and branding. Branding Mag called the design “the most obvious manifestation of branding.” Although this description is a few years old, it has lost none of its accuracy. Other key elements of branding include a brand’s values, vision, and brand personality.
Without design, it would be much more difficult to distinguish one brand from another. Imagine all the cars looking like the classic Ford Model T: simple, functional and, above all, black. Cars can have different engines and their performance varies. But without clear external distinguishing features, consumers would struggle to identify them.
The design facilitates this distinction and makes the brands recognizable at first sight.
Related: Great Design and Branding Can Give Your Business an Edge
Brand design is more than a logo
A brand’s logo is just one manifestation of its design. This is arguably the most important because it is seen most often by the most people. Other design elements that contribute to branding include:
Incidentally, in the case of Ford Model T cars, black was chosen for efficient production rather than design or marketing reasons. The cars were made for 19 years, and for seven of those years other colors were available.
Design elements make it easy to identify a brand. In addition, they contribute to the image of the brand. A much-cited example of outstanding brand design is Nike’s simple swoosh. Despite its simplicity, it conveys a dynamism and energy that supports Nike’s positioning as a manufacturer of performance sportswear.
Another example of a strong logo is the interlocking Cs of the Chanel brand. Whether the logo adorns the packaging or the make-up, the clasp of a handbag or an advertisement in a magazine, the design identifies the brand without the need to mention its name.
Related: How to make your clients love working with you
Why logos are important
Although corporate logos are only part of brand design, their importance should not be underestimated. Logos typically appear at every touchpoint between a brand and potential or existing customers. They are an essential part of brand identity and can build a bridge between the brand and the audience.
Logos make it easy to identify your brand, to remember it and to distinguish it from its competitors. At the same time, they can also contribute to consistency between different communication channels. As your brand grows and uses more and more ways to reach customers, design in general and logos in particular create connections.
Successful branding triggers an emotional reaction in the audience, and a well-designed logo can be enough to generate that reaction. If the reaction is favorable, the logo reinforces those positive feelings towards a brand. Because of this strong connection, many brands are hesitant to change their logo. They can update it when it starts to look tired, but basically keep a similar design.
Integration is key
Despite this emphasis on logos, it would be wrong to neglect other design elements or other branding elements. As with anything in marketing, integration is key. Design elements can only fully benefit your brand if they work well together and complement each other.
Take typography, for example. The clean, simple Nike logo wouldn’t work well with a fussy, frilly font. Not only would the logo and the font clash, but the font and the product would also contradict each other.
Color is another major element of brand identity. Coca-Cola trademarked its vibrant shade of red to prevent competitors or unassociated companies from using it. The fast-food chain McDonald’s has successfully used yellow and red for decades, while the famous chocolate maker Cadbury favors purple combined with white or gold. All these brands have one thing in common: seeing the color is enough to evoke the product in the mind of the public.
Most brands choose a color palette rather than a single color. While remaining distinct and recognizable, access to multiple color choices makes it easy to integrate logos and other elements into different contexts.
Related: 3 Reasons Your Audience Won’t Buy From You (Even If They Like You)
Power needs rules
Design and branding are essential to the economic success of a business. Both also need rules to realize their full potential.
When it comes to branding, these rules include consistent brand messages, for example. Without this kind of consistency, it would be difficult to know what a brand stands for. Brand design also works best when there is some consistency in how design elements like logos and colors can be used. This is why most brands insist on developing a brand manual at the same time as they develop their brand design.
Establishing clear brand guidelines is key to keeping your brand looking professional. The same guidelines ensure that the brand remains recognizable, even if the design elements are used in different contexts.
Without a clear brand image and design, it is almost impossible for a company to stand out in its market. Powerful design elements should complement brand messages. Only when both are applied consistently across all marketing channels can they reach their full potential.