Is it a Logo, or a Brand, or Both?

September 15, 2011

How to tell the difference between logo and brand


On Tuesday we asked you to think through some important questions to help you evaluate the health and vitality of your current brand. Today we want to spend some time digging deeper into some of those questions, starting with the most visible element of any brand: the logo.


Before we get started, lets set the stage for what we mean when we talk about brands and logos. A logo is a mark, either a simple word mark or image, that an organization relies on to represent it’s brand. A brand is the substance that the logo represents, relying heavily on customer experience. Sure, branding can mean the “look and feel” associated with your logo in terms of graphic design; but your brand has to do with the experience you are offering your customer/audience more so than what type of graphic image you portray.


A good example to show the distinction between a logo and a brand is Snapple. The Snapple corporation produces a line of teas, juices and flavored drinks. The Snapple logo on its own is your basic word mark, there isn’t an icon or mark associated with the logo at all. This is a good quality logo, but it doesn’t completely capture everything there is to know about the Snapple brand, we don’t get much about the actual customer experience Snapple is working to convey.  Beyond the logo, Snapple’s brand includes a catchy tag line: “Made from the Best Stuff on Earth,” an advertising campaign claiming that, “the best stuff on Earth just got better,” even a secret surprise message under the cap — a series of “Real Facts” that are really just random trivia that has nothing to do with the drink but generates some fun for those who discover the little fact under their drink cap, not to mention they produce a quality product that people like to drink. The point is that there is much more to the Snapple brand that you don’t get from the logo itself. The logo is just one element of the overall brand. The ad campaign, the “Real Facts,” the tag line and other customer experience defining elements (like a great tasting product) work hand-in-hand with the logo, artwork, and look-and-feel elements to produce the complete Snapple brand.


Another great example of a brand using a logo mark is Apple.  There is no question that this is one of the most well recognized logo marks of our time. Many have speculated, “what in the world does an apple have to do with computers,” and while no one quite knows for absolute sure, what we can all agree on is that the simple and straightforward silhouette of an apple with one bite missing has become a symbol of all things cutting-edge, hip and cool in the world of technology.  And by no means is this logo mark’s relevance limited to the computer world, it has great influence in the world of smart phones, video production, digital media distribution (think music, movies and books), and more.  But again, the take-away here is that its not the apple with a bite missing that makes the Apple brand great, its the products and services they offer and the customer/user experience they have created through advertising and packaging that make the brand so successful.


If you are at a point of rethinking your own logo, or if you are a new organization and have not yet created your official logo, it is important to understand the differences between a logo and a brand, and start by defining and really understanding your brand.  It may be that you need to make some adjustments to your brand before you leap into the throws of a logo redesign.


In sharing these two examples of a word mark logo and an icon logo, we hope that you can see that its the experience that drives the brand, not the logo.  So before you get carried away thinking about graphics and art, be sure you spend time thinking through your own customer or audience experience and the messaging that must be in place to establish the experience you want to convey.  It is critical that you have a firm understanding of these elements before we begin the creative process from a graphic design perspective.


We are happy to walk alongside you as you determine the elements of experience your brand should convey. Our team can help you ask the right questions and think through various implications that will lead you to discovering the exact messaging you will want to back up your logo.  Then we can work together to design a strong logo that truly represents your brand and the experiences by which you will connect with your audience.

Cross & Crown

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Cross & Crown is a team of creatives who are passionate about solving problems through design and technology, taking what is there and making it better. Based in Chambersburg, PA, we strive to help educate, advocate, and thrive in a digital world.

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