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What is the difference between a brand and a logo?

read 4 min.

Don't feel bad if you don't understand the difference between a brand and a logo. You are not the only one living through this. There are plenty of people in the marketing industry who unfortunately use these two terms synonymously. There is not enough effort put into educating leaders about the difference and why it is so significant when they are used correctly.

difference between logo and brand

What is a logo?

A logo can typically be defined by more people than two. At its most basic level, a logo is a graphic or typographic mark that identifies your organization. It is easy to recall many logos, such as the Nike Swoosh, Apple's Apple, Coca-Cola's swirly cursive, and Google's playful colors.

These days, logos tend to be easily recognized and reproducible these days in print, graphics, and videos. But a winning logo is more than the sum of its parts. It becomes a mental bookmark or visual shorthand for what they represent.

Whether they like the products or not, when people see the Starbucks mermaid, the Golden Arches, or Target’s bullseye, they evoke reactions. They bring to mind everything people know about the company behind the logo. In a way, a logo works as a holding container for all the information and emotions we have regarding the branding of a business.

We have discussed exactly what makes a good and not-so-good logo. But getting recognized for the right reasons in the digital world of visual communication is becoming increasingly relevant. So, what is a brand?

difference between a brand and a logo

What is a Brand?

Branding is much more than just a name and a design. A brand is an all-encompassing term for everything a business represents. It is the essence of a company – how customers see it and how it interacts with the world. Customers are affected by the business's reputation, our experience with it, and our feelings about it.

its products, marketing, customer service, advertising campaigns, and social media personas. If you were to get a sense of how the average customer thinks and feels about the company – how they experience it – you would have a picture of their brand.

Some aspects reflect how the business seeks to be seen, and others are beyond its control. Everything the organization is and does becomes part of the brand:

Savvy marketers and leaders pay close attention to everything that can impact their brand. From branding standards that guide the use of the logo and the company name to direction about the common voice with which the organization speaks in advertising and on social media, to the way employees answer corporate telephones, every interaction with the public is an opportunity to reinforce the brand.

Companies that are creating a brand from scratch have much work to do before ever facing the public. They must create and develop some aspirations as to what they want the brand to be and what they hope it will evoke in the world.

How Do Logo and Brand Work Together?

With an understanding of both logo and brand, there is another way to define a logo. A logo, in a well-defined branding strategy, is a visual shortcut for the brand. For children, the Golden Arches are more than just a sign that there is going to be something to eat.

Those arches define everything the child loves about McDonald’s, including the smells, the tastes, the atmosphere, and the toy that may come with their meal. For some adults, a brand may invoke feelings of pride and nostalgia if they worked for a company for decades and still relate to a brand.

Which Comes First, the Brand or the Logo?

Those who are new to the differentiation between logos and brands may wonder where to start when creating and designing a marketing strategy for a business or updating a current plan. It might be tempting to start with a logo. A logo is a very tangible thing and creating one can produce the most significant level of satisfaction for a marketing team.

However, that is not the most effective way to approach an overall branding strategy. There are questions to be answered before thinking about a visual representation of the brand. Creating a logo may come reasonably late in the process for many companies.

Different aspects of brand creation such as creating an overall strategy, defining target customers, and developing brand positioning and messaging create helpful guidance in designing a logo and creating an overall look and feel for a business.

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