The difference between a logo, identity and a brand

The difference between a logo, identity and a brand

Ian Bonner Design questions

Something that crops up when dealing with a client (usually by accident) are the misconceptions regarding the differences between a logo, an identity and a brand. Most designers have their own views on it and these are mine.

There is a difference. A huge difference.

Crowdsourcing sites play a big part in this, to the extent that they are frequently used by the client as a benchmark when a designer gives an answer.

So what is the difference between a logo, identity and a brand?

What is a logo?

A logo is a recognisable symbol or ‘mark’ in it’s most simple form. It is the first connection the customer will have with an organisation, which usually consists of a graphic symbol, a colour palette, sometimes and most often than not, including a namestyle (company / organisation name). Used within a brand, it is the representation of that brand. It is usually the first thing you think of as a connection to a company. It creates a memorable reaction.


Nike = swoosh tick
McDonalds = golden arches

Which then leads us on to identity.

An identity is formed of the physical aspects of the business that the customer engages with. A logo is contained within the printed media, but the identity is formed of the physical items. This includes business cards, letterheads, brochures, advertisements, uniforms or workwear, packaging, point of sale, and so on. It is what the customer comes directly into contact with.

The identity is the ‘personality’ of the brand. It is the expression of what the organisation stands for.

So what is a brand?

Imagine the foundations of a house. That’s a brand. You don’t get to see it but it is just as important as everything else. It is the basis of a logo and an identity, a concept of a business, product, organisation or service that makes it different to others. Target market, communication, customer loyalty, trust, visual communications, the overall brand experience. Mainly what you don’t see but is actually right in front of you all along.

If a logo is present without a brand identity, once the visual symbol is removed, the business is unrecognisable.

If a business has an identity with a strong brand, however, the logo can be removed, and if branded effectively, the business would continue to be recognised.

If you are looking for a logo for your business then this is something you should consider. There is nothing wrong with having just a logo of course, it comes down to what you require. And this takes me back to crowdsourcing sites. They have a purpose. But there is a reason they are able to have a completed logo at your desk within 12-24 hours. If you want to be recognised and create customer loyalty and trust on the other hand, then it is well worth considering having a brand identity.

So what do you have? Tell me what you think and if you agree.

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