Branding vs Logo Design

Branding vs Logo Design

OK, I’ll confess – this is not really a battle. More of an explanation. Being a company that offers branding services, we get a lot of questions about what branding is and how it differs from logo design. The fact is that logo design is part of branding – a large part of it, but still, just a part. A lot of agencies will offer logo design as a service, on par with web design, graphic design, print design and so on. There is nothing particularly wrong with that, but it’s not our philosophy. We feel in order to create a truly great logo that works for a company, you first need to establish the promise and the expectations that will reside in the target audiences. You can’t do that by jumping headfirst into logo design and offering up three designs for your client to pick from. That’s like fighting the competition with a blindfold on.

Round 1: Establish your ground

The first step in our branding process is to do a key messaging session with our clients. This helps establish (among other things) key target audiences, points of prides and proof of value statements. This means that when we start the design process we know who we are designing for, what we need to say about the company or organization, and how we’re going to say it. Obviously this doesn’t just inform the logo design, but all marketing materials from the website to print materials and beyond.

Round 2: Scope out the opponent

Once the key messaging is established, we use this and the completed client questionnaire to start the design research phase. We want to make sure we understand what the competition is doing, to see if trends are being established but more importantly to ensure we avoid going in a similar direction. There is also a period of more general design research, reviewing past and present design techniques and trends. While we want to create a design that goes beyond a ‘fad’, there is nothing wrong with being informed by what else is currently out there. Industry trends happen for a reason and it would be silly to be oblivious to them.

Round 3: A clean strike

Then, and only then, the logo design process begins. Starting on a sketch pad, we go through several iterations, attempting to combine a multitude of concepts and ideas into one simple shape. Something that you could look at for five seconds, then draw it in the next ten from memory. If it’s not that simple, it won’t be memorable. It needs to be memorable.

Once the general concept has been conceived, we move the design into the computer. This is usually done by recreating the drawn design using perfect geometric shapes such as circles and squares – we do this to help keep a sense of synergy, simplicity and symmetry. Now we have created the logo mark, the colour and font research begins. Both need to not only compliment the logo mark, but also speak to the target audiences. This is not something that is taken lightly. Thus begins a process of testing and deliberation.

Branding Decisions

Round 4: Eyes on the prize

The final step in the process is to create the branding vision. Taking everything we have learned so far, we can present the logo design in context. A context that makes sense for the company (we won’t be showing an example of a bus stop ad if you are a B2B software company). While I don’t want to delve into all the details (it is our secret sauce after all), our clients receive a true vision piece that gives them the full picture of how we see their brand working across a multitude of mediums, now and into the future.

Round 5: KO

In conclusion, branding is the promise – the logo is the vehicle to help deliver that promise. Our philosophy dictates that you need to figure out the promise before a pencil is even picked up. And by the time the design is completed, the answer is so obvious, it has almost drawn itself. This is our process – these are the words we stand by, and what has made us and our clients successful.


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