Brands, Bigger than a Logo

By Sam Stratton

The word "brand" derives from the burning of livestock (or criminals and slaves, to be historically accurate) with a branding iron. This was a way to show ownership of animals (or people).

A branding iron is a tool that helps identify a given producer or owner by way of their mark, or visual identifier. Those early symbols are the foundation of the modern-day logo.

Today, the term "brand" has been expanded to encompass more than just a logo. A brand is everything that we associate with a given company, including the negative and positive experiences that we as consumers have with a specific company. Brands are the outward expression of what a company is. It's what makes us feel something towards a company. A brand is the whole of which a logo is a part.

Brands allow companies to make real human connections with consumers. Think of a company as a being, a person. They have a name, a personality, and a value core. Their outward appearance, speech, and behaviors identify them. All components exist in a company and their overall impression is much the same as those projected to people. Their name is how you reference them, their personality affects how you are attracted to them and how you grow to feel about them. Their value core charts the path of their behaviors. Their outward appearance and speech through web presence and advertising are expressions of who they are.

So where does this leave you as a designer of brands, or a keeper of a brand looking to hire out design work? With the consideration that physical attributes alone are not what connects us to people. It's the experiences that we have with them that create emotional ties. And experiences like that take time. Brands can't demonstrate their whole personality and create lasting connections just through their name, logotype, or logo. Real customer connections come from the experiences you take your customer through. With that in mind, find who your company is and filter everything you do through that truth. Creating relevance to your client's identity, creating a breadth of a brand experience, and staying consistent throughout are the keys to build brand recognition and a cohesive experience for customers.