Looking beyond the visual
Our Head of Studio and Art Director Ellie Pearson discusses how a successful brand has to stand for more than what it looks like on the outside.
Over time, we’ve found ourselves in a dangerous mindset where a logo is seen as the most important thing surrounding a brand. Yet we have to ask ourselves – why? People very often build the foundations of a brand around what it looks like and then. when a new trend comes along, we redesign them to look more modern, sharper, different. But logos on their own actually stand for and say nothing. Without doubt, they help bring brand recognition and a level of consistency – however they can’t tell an audience who you are or what you stand for unless the brand as a whole is built from strong foundations.
It’s important to remember: a logo is NOT a brand. It’s simply a visual representation of many underlying factors. A brand is an experience, a feeling and the way in which a product, company or individual is perceived by those who experience it. And a logo, not matter how well it’s designed, cannot achieve all those things on its own.
Beyond the surface
A logo is of course important but, ultimately, visual identity sits at surface level. Great brands are built from the inside out and should be formed and shaped by strong beliefs ultimately driven by personality and values. With a mission and essence at its core, if your brand doesn’t have a purpose, a strong logo won’t fill that void.
As a designer, I find myself surrounded by brands all the time, scrutinising their logos, admiring typefaces – but this is all superficial.
Let’s take Apple for example: their logo is defined as simply that – an apple. No words alongside it, just a visual representation of an apple. On its own, it stands for nothing. If you singled the logo out, without knowing what you know about the brand, you’d be hard pushed to guess it’s a technology company. Yet it’s arguably the most recognised logo in the world, and a brand we’re all likely to have connected with at some point in our lives. It’s the perception and feeling that we get from the brand as a whole which we connect with, NOT the logo. The feeling you get when you open one of their products for the first time, the experience you feel when you visit one of their stores – that’s the Apple brand.
The visual identity has to represent the brand, not define it. A logo on its own can’t tell your brand’s story, and branding identity stretches far beyond the visual representation. Yet when it’s paired with the strong foundations of what’s behind a brand, it can bring ultimate success and truly transform your business and its mindset.