What is the difference between Logo Design, Visual Identity, Branding?
This is a question that gets asked over and over again not just by clients but also designers working in the field of design. It amazes me how many designers don’t know the difference between them so in this article let’s answer the question of what is the difference between Logo Design, Visual Identity, Branding?
It may sound silly to those that know but a Logo Design is not your brand, neither is your Visual Identity.
A Logo Design, Visual Identity and branding all have their very own roles that they play, and together they form a perceived image in the eyes of consumers about a business such as their services and products and this image forms the relationship with the consumers who are potential customers to that business.
Let’s simplify these three areas:
What is a logo?
A Logo Design is a visual identifier for a business and its sole purpose is to identify in its simplest form with the use of a visual mark, icon, symbol or typographical wordmark. And is part of the visual identity design.
What is identity?
The visual aspects that form part of the overall brand.
Identity is the visual aspect and language that a business uses that form part of the overall brand. Elements include – logo, typographic style, colour palette, photography, illustration and tone of voice.
What is brand?
The perceived emotional corporate image as a whole.
Branding is a much broader subject that does include Logo/Visual identity. Branding also incluse a range of other things such as how your customers interact, engage and feel about the business its services and products. Branding also includes marketing, public relations, events literally everything to do with a business.
Let’s go into detail and expand in more detail starting with the logo:
We must first understand what a logo is for, to fully understand what a logo design is.
As we mentioned earlier a logo design is for identification and its sole purpose is just that a visual identifier.
A logo design does not sell the business its products or services directly and rarely describes what the business actually does. Logo Design derives their meaning from the quality of the thing is represents and symbolises, not the other way around, the goal of the logo is identify not explain!
Think of it like this a what the logo design means is far more important than what it looks like, and this is why there is so much effort that goes into creating a professional logo design even the really simple ones, it’s not what you can add but what you can take away too visually identify in its simplest form.
To explain more this concept let imagine the logo design is a person called Andrew, and Andrew likes to be called and referred to by simply his name “Andrew” rather than a description of himself such as “The man who is always dressed nice, and wears that lovely aftershave that smells nice, and he’s always pleasant when greeting people, and taps them on the shoulder”
In this same way, a logo design should not literally describe what the business actually does but rather, be an identifier for the business in a way that is recognisable and memorable.
It’s important to remember that a logo design does take time to become familiar with consumers and one they can identify with it the logo design will function in its intended way, just like we need to learn a person’s name to be able to identify them without having to explain about them.
Logo design identifies a business, its services and products they offer in its simplest form.
But What about Start-up Businesses and Less Recognisable Brands
Now depending on the scale of a business some logos will require a tagline or slogan as it’s also known as this will help a smaller new start-up or less established business let consumers know what their business is all about. The tagline will help the actual symbol and brand name become more recognisable in time and as the business grows some companies remove their taglines to simplify their logo design.
Books to Learn about Logo Design
- The Ultimate Guide To Logo Design (By Kyle Courtright)
- Logo Design Love (by David Airey)
- Logo: The Reference Guide to Symbols and Logotypes (by Michael Evamy)
- Logo Modernism (by Jens Muller & R. Roger Remington)
- Marks of Excellence: The History and Taxonomy of Trademarks (by Per Mollerup)
- Logo Life: Life Histories of 100 Famous Brands (by Ron van der Vlugt)
- The Logo Design idea book by Steven Heller & Gail Anderson
Learn Logo Design Online
- Aaron Draplin – Logo Design The Draplin Way
- Logo Design With Grids: Timeless Style From Simple Shapes
- Designing Brand Symbols: The Principles & Process of Making Logos that Last With Sagi Haviv
Visual Identity Design
One of the major roles in a brand/corporate image of a business is its visual identity.
Visual identity design is based around the visual elements used within the business that are usually collated within a set of guidelines sometimes a document or booklet.
These guidelines that make up a the business visual identity will explain how to use certain assets or elements and refers to how the identity is applied and used throughout a number of applications and mediums, using approved colour palettes, typography, scaling of elements and layouts etc.
These guidelines are like an instruction manual for the visual identity and by having these ensures the visual identity for the business is kept consistent throughout the visual design elements that are been created and shown to consumers to promote the brand, and this helps the brand as a whole remain consistent and recognisable.
A visual Identity is made up of many visual elements:
- Logo Design – The visual identifier of the entire visual identity/brand
- Stationary Design – Business Card, Letterhead, envelopes etc
- Marketing Collateral – Website Design, Flyers, Brochures, Promotional Items
- Products and Packaging – The Products sold and their packaging design
- Apparel Design – Clothing worn by employees or Sold to consumers
- Interior or Exterior Signage – Billboards, shop sign, office wall décor
- Livery Design – Business vehicle signage
- Tone of Voice – Messages and actions conveyed by indirect or direct modes of communication
- Other forms of communication – Smell, Touch, Sound etc
- Any Other forms of visual identification that represents the business.
All the above elements make up the identity of a business and should support the brand in its entirety. The Logo Design is the corporate identity and brand incorporated into a single identifiable mark.
Books to Learn about Visual Identity Design
- Designing Brand Identity: An Essential Guide for the Whole Branding Team (By Alina Wheeler)
- Creating a Brand Identity: A Guide for Designers (by Catharine Slade-Brooking)
- Identity Designed: The Definitive Guide to Visual Branding
Learn Everything Online – Skillshare has great courses!
Now let’s discuss branding, and believe me when I say this is no light topic to outline but my aim is to simplify this for you so you have a better understanding of branding.
There have been hundreds and thousands of book publications written about the topic of Branding, and I myself have quite a few of those books on the studio bookshelf.
However to put it simply you could describe a brand as a business, organisation, product or service that has a ‘personality’ that is moulded by the perceptions of its consumers.
To be crystal clear a designer does not make or create a brand it’s the brands audience that do this and the designers role is to form the foundation of the brand.
Marty Neumeier a branding specialist and author of branding books such as The Brand Gap, Zag and The Brand Flip once quoted:
“A brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service or organisation”
– Marty Neumeier
There are many people including designers that think a brand consists of only a few elements including the logo, the colours the brand uses, the typography and the music you hear on the advertisements in the real world there is more to branding than that.
You may say a brand is a corporate image, and the fundamental idea concept behind having a corporate image is everything the business does, everything it owns and produces should reflect the core values and goals of the business in its entirety, and it’s this consistency of this idea that makes the business. Showing what it stands for and believes in, and why they do what they do! It’s not based on visual elements such as the logo design, the colours you see or the slogan that pops up all the time.
For example, most people know about a technology brand called Apple, and as a brand they project a humanistic corporate culture with a strong corporate ethic that is characterised volunteerism, support of good causes and the involvement in the community.
These values of Apple are evident throughout everything they do, for the innovative products they produce and the way they advertise them, through to the customer service they give.
Apple really connects with people by being an emotionally humanist brand and when consumers purchase and use Apple products and services they apart of the Apple brand like a tribe and a member of a special club.
It’s the emotional connection Apple has with is consumers that creates the brand not solely the products or is visual elements even though they all add to part of the brand they are not the brand.
Books to Learn about Branding
- Branding: In Five and a Half Steps (by Michael Johnson)
- ZAG: The #1 Strategy of High-Performance Brands (by Marty Neumeier)
- The Brand Gap: Revised Edition (by Marty Neumeier)
- The Brand Flip: Why Customers Now Run Companies and How to Profit From it (by Marty Neumeier)
- How to Launch a Brand (2nd Edition) Yor Ste-By-Step Guide to Crafting a Brand: From Positioning to Naming and Brand Identity (by Fabian Geyrhalter)
- Bigger Than This: How to Turn Any Venture Into an Admired Brand (by Fabian Geyrhalter)
- Book of Branding (by Radim Malinic)
Learn Brand Strategy
We hope this has answered the question of What is The Difference Between Logo Design, Visual Identity, Branding? and thanks for reading.
What is a Logo Design?
A Logo Design is a visual identifier for a business and its sole purpose is to identify in its simplest form with the use of a visual mark, icon, symbol or typographical wordmark, and is part of the visual identity design.
What is Visual Identity Design?
The visual aspects that form part of the overall brand. Identity is the visual aspect and language that a business uses that form part of the overall brand. Elements include – logo, typographic style, colour palette, photography, illustration and tone of voice.
What is a Brand/Branding?
The perceived emotional corporate image as a whole. Branding is a much broader subject that does include Logo/Visual identity. Branding also include a range of other things such as how your customers interact, engage and feel about the business its services and products. Branding also includes marketing, public relations, events literally everything to do with a business.