Most people think if they have a badass logo, they also have a badass brand! And while a cool logo can take you far, it is most certainly not a brand, and understanding the difference can open your eyes to new opportunities for growing your business.
Below are 4 key differences that can help you determine if you have a brand or not, and when you need one.
1. A LOGO IS A MARK, A BRAND IS YOUR STORY
A logo is the mark that identifies your company whenever it’s presented. It’s the mark that goes on top of your website, your business cards, and your products and packaging. A logo is one very important part of your brand.
A brand is what you stand for and how consumers perceive the sum of your company’s touch points. This includes everything your customers come into contact with. It's the main message and idea that influences everything you say and do, how and where you market it, and of course, all the visual elements of your business (website, business cards, marketing materials...)
An important point most people miss is that a brand is not about what you are selling, but why people care about what you’re selling. It’s about the emotional need you are fulfilling.
Think about your brand as a story. Who are you, and why should people care?
2. A LOGO WILL HELP YOU START A BUSINESS, A BRAND WILL HELP YOU GROW A BUSINESS
You can start and build a business with a logo, and as a solopreneur just by operating you are your default brand because you are your business, and people can’t help being themselves pretty consistently. If you’re a reliable, hardworking person with a great product, you’ll probably do alright! Although if you rely on your personal awesomeness to develop your business, it will mean that you need to spend quite a bit of time with each lead for them to fully understand why you’re great.
When you start hiring employees and outside vendors who will also be selling your services (social media marketers, for example), a brand is crucial to making sure that everyone is selling the same thing, with the same message. Even if it continues to just be you, if you are utilizing online marketing techniques (social media, blogging, webinars, newsletters, etc…) a brand will make sure that all the content you put out there is consistently telling the right story, reinforcing the main overall message of your business. That consistency is what develops relationships with people overtime, be they current or potential clients. The longer you reinforce your message, the more awareness you bring to your business and that awareness multiplies overtime and translates into sales.
3. A LOGO INFLUENCES YOUR VISUALS, A BRAND AFFECTS AESTHETICS, AND MORE
Since the logo is the sum of the brand's visuals, we usually start by developing the perfect logo mark and then build the entire visual brand around it. But that visual brand does not directly reference company culture or messaging. Again, when you have a brand message, it influences every decision you make as a company (For example your pitch; your homepage copy; how and where you market. A few less obvious ones might be; how you structure your work days; where you have a company holiday party or host promotional events; what kinds of events you sponsor; what charities you support; the kinds of gifts you give...)
4. A LOGO IS MORE AFFORDABLE THAN A BRAND
Unless you have an investment with which you are starting your business, developing a brand before you’ve actually set up shop is usually not possible given your limited resources. When we help growing businesses create a brand, we have a lot of information on which to base that brand message; past experiences can shed light on the actual needs of the consumer (as opposed to the needs you think they have.)
That said, having a brand is powerful. If you have a clear and strong message, and brand elements that strengthen that message (i.e. a badass website, super professional business cards, eye catching mailers…) selling is much easier. Many industries sell their good based almost completely on their brand. Clothing and jewelry, for example, are a dime a dozen, are non-essentials, and consumers in these verticals buy based on the brand equity more so then in service-based businesses. The whole buying experience needs to make consumers feel great because they don't need to buy this item. And that experience is shaped by the brand.
But out of the gate, when you are starting a business, there are so many other things that need your time and money. So when boot strapping the business, it’s usually not feasible or the best use of your limited resources. After all, a great brand without a great business has nothing to sell. Here's an article about how much branding costs, and you're just starting out, check out our Brandshrink or Brandup, an affordable way to get everything you need, including a responsive website if you're not ready for the full shabang.
In the end you will need both, but when you are a small business, doing a full branding project is often not affordable. If you use a logo designer that knows about branding, elements of your overall brand message will still be discussed and explored to achieve the right logo anyway. A brand will always be more powerful, but companies don’t usually have the resources to develop one when first starting out. When you’re ready though, a brand is necessary and will help take you where you want to go!