Unless You’re a Cattle Farmer, a Logo is Not a Brand

We see it every day. That most abused of marketing words, further impoverished and robbed of meaning with each misuse. “Take a look at our brand. This is our new brand. We've rebranded.”

Great, we say. What is your new brand about? Invariably, we will hear all manner of nonsense about forward momentum, inclusivity, exclusivity, drama and “breakthrough.”

At its once-noble core, a brand is the emotional relationship between an organization and its stakeholders. How they feel when they are caused to think about the organization by a brand touchpoint. That touchpoint can be as simple as the choice of on-hold music.

A visual identity is the graphic embodiment of the attributes that make the brand. The same attributes that help define the brand promise. While this may be old news to some, it’s painfully apparent that this is unheard of in the age of air-kissing, wall-posts and “influencers.”

Developing a visual identity is every bit as challenging as developing the brand and requires the same levels of rigour and discipline in creating the framework to evaluate the design.

When considering branding or re-branding, the onus should be on the client, not the designer, to figure out what they stand for, to whom and why. Too many good companies are outsourcing accountability and the result is a nice visual ID with no purpose. The heavy lifting up-front is worth it.

A brand is consistency in tone and message. A brand is meaningful and relevant. A brand is a story.

A story that you start and your consumer finishes.