Yo, Branding is NOT Your Logo
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I’m going to tell you something, and it’s going to rock your world. OK, maybe not rock your world, but hopefully, at the end of this post, your perspective will change. For a while, the word “branding” has been used interchangeably with logo. Not just by consumers, by designers too. It’s not a fault, it just happened. But it's time to put an end to this lie, so I’m here to tell you, branding and logo are not the same things.
In fact, branding is so much more than a logo.
Let’s dive in:
Logo: Recognizable and distinctive graphic design, stylized name, unique symbol, or other device for identifying an organization.
Branding: The marketing practice of creating a name, symbol or design that identifies and differentiates a product from other products.
Another way to look at it:
Branding is what, why, and how the company/blog/brand exists. Logo is only part of your who, what, why, and how you exist.
I’ve revamped FIVE12 STUDIO a time or two since I switched from CNICOLE Photodesign. And while the logo was a mass improvement from the previous, one thing remained the same:
However, during my recent restructure, I focused more on the core of FIVE12 STUDIO which allowed me to develop the visual concept:
What did I want FIVE12 STUDIO to represent to the consumer?
When I pitch to prospective companies, how was I going to introduce my brand?
Who, out there, is doing the same thing I’m doing? How will I differ from them?
Working through these questions I was able to transition from, “Creating graphic design for companies and individual clients," (that’s horrible, right?),
“Taking your vision and making it a reality to create and attract your audience. You’ll increase diversity to cultivate and influence your audience.”
Boom, bam, wham.
With that, my brand’s vision is developed and more polished as it helped me convey visual reputation for FIVE12 STUDIO.
A fresh example: Boobs for Babies is a blog that advocates breastfeeding. Here, they give tips on breastfeeding and share products that help them with the process. She plans on adding people to guest post and reach out to companies for partnerships, so she needs to establish herself as polished. Right now she's starting from scratch, so let’s set up Boobs for Babies brand.
- Who’s “Boobs for Babies" target audience?
This is the ground and the foundation of everything. Her target audience will be other women who breastfeed and moms-to-be who plan on doing the same or are strongly considering breastfeeding, looking for a source from someone who has first-hand experience. Here they’ll find out what to expect, and what products can help them throughout the breast feeding journey.
- How does “Boobs for Babies” want to be represented?
She wants to be known as a mom, less as a medical expert. Being approachable is key to growing her audience, so her blog will read more like a conversation/documented journal with snips of facts than a medical journal. Boobs for Babies uses her experience as a mother of two to set herself up as an expert in her niche. As a mom of two, she’s been asked advice on why, what to do in public, and what to expect while it's happening. Overall, she wants to come off as non-judgmental, so her images, graphics, and language will be positive, focusing only on other breastfeeding moms.
- What’s your number one mission you want to get across?
Boobs for Babies wants to kee breastfeeding believers as believers and cross over those who are on the fence. Again, she wants to be a source that positively advocates and educates the benefits of breastfeeding for both mommy and baby.
Now let’s put the visual components of the brand together:
Color. We can go with pink here, but I’d go with a gender neutral colors to avoid being gender specific. While yes, the mom most likely identifies as female, we don't want to assume breastfeeding only benefits girls. Muted greens, oranges or soft yellows show peace, power, energy, and calmness.
Typeface. I’d go for a sans-serif type throughout (Raleway, Open Sans, etc). Considering you want to be positive, I’d avoid any kind of fonts that read “harsh” and not use a serif font (think Time New Roman).
Tone. The goal is to educate, not bash. Considering breastfeeding isn’t an option for everyone, the words, “should” and “must” will be used sparingly, left for more comedic content.
Logo and/or Symbol. The title is called Boobs and Babies, so creating a symbol is doable as long as it depicts the right message. Keeping the name of the title with the symbol is crucial to prevent any misrepresentation. However, B4B doesn’t need a symbol, so playing with a typeface and incorporating its colors is the way to go here.
See how everything flows together? This is why it's important to make sure not to confuse logo with branding (and if someone does, wag your finger letting them know they are wrong). The standards or guidelines, set will shape how you put out the visuals.
PS. For an intense look at branding, look at Google's updated branding guides. The depth of detail that brings all of their services together is exceptional. https://design.google.com/