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Branding beyond a logo

Branding is often reduced to one single visual component: a logo. Logos often spearhead a brand’s visual identity and are often the most distinctive asset a brand has in its armoury. So it’s easy to see why logos take centre stage and are often subject to public debate

Whether they involve a piece of type, a symbol or motif, our world is full of logos vying for our attention. But a logo is just one component of a wider design system that constitutes a brand’s visual identity. Anecdotally, when the CEO of Nike first saw the famous ‘swoosh’ his reaction was “I don’t love it, but maybe it’ll grow on me”. In isolation a logo can only communicate so much – what does a tick say about a shoe company anyway?

What is a logo?

A logo is your brand’s greeting to the world. But a brand runs deeper than a surface level hello. Underneath, setting the foundations for a great brand, are carefully crafted components; aspirations, goals, vision, personality. All coming together and manifesting itself through a visual look and feel.” – Julia Darze, Senior Designer.

A successful logo can facilitate an emotional connection and boost brand loyalty. People should instantly connect with your brand when they see your logo. Better still, a good logo will help enhance people’s memory of your brand and how it makes them feel. 

What is branding?

Simply put, branding is how your business or organisation communicates itself to the wider world. It’s the personification of your brand. Julia adds, “Branding encapsulates the ethos, vision and aspirations into a carefully crafted package that feels distinctive to the business in question.”

Branding isn’t just an exercise reserved for big businesses. It is especially important for start-ups and SMEs. In a busy world, a strong visual identity will help your brand to stand out from competitors and communicate something about who you are and what you stand for. As designer Paul Rand once said: “Design is the silent ambassador of your brand”.   

Why does branding matter?

Good branding can establish an identity that truly sets a business apart from its competitors. Whether you’re trying to appeal directly to consumers, or business-to-business, people are naturally drawn to brands they can trust. When branding is consistent and easy to recognise it can help potential buyers feel more at ease because they know exactly what to expect each and every time. 

Successful branding sparks an emotive connection with its audience. It can generate a sense of belonging, common ground, and shared values. That’s powerful. When executed well, branding is the difference between a resilient, industry-leading business, and one that is forgotten. 

A logo isn’t enough

Our branding project with coding academy, iO Academy, is a perfect example of when a logo could not capture all the intricacies and ambitions of the organisation. With a name that is somewhat ambiguous, came the need to create an identity that brought clarity and distinction. Our central idea of ‘Limitless Possibilities’ allowed us to cast our net wide, and build a visual look that felt open, curious and future-facing. Whilst the logo did help to inform our typographic choices, the other components like colour, graphics and illustration were designed to complement, contrast and enrich. The result is a well-rounded identity.  

Brand guidelines for iO Academy
Above: Brand Guidelines for iO Academy

In the case of our recent branding for live performance activists Theatre Bristol, the project demanded carefully curated individual components. Sure, the logo succeeded in capturing the ambition Theatre Bristol have for their performers to break through boundaries; but the branding needed to go further. From fonts that reflected the organisation’s lobbying and activist motivations, to a colour palette that felt inclusive and positive, the branding needed to strike the right tone – which couldn’t have been achieved through a logo alone.

Theatre Bristol Brand Guidelines
Above: Brand guidelines for Theatre Bristol

Bringing brands to life

It’s not hard to create a logo. But a logo that resonates with and encompasses your company’s values and vision? That’s much harder, but ultimately much more rewarding. It’s the culmination of strategy, copywriting, typographic choices, colour palettes, imagery, graphics and motion. That’s branding.” Julia Darze, Senior Designer. 

We partner with clients to bring brands to life. Our work is born from an in-depth understanding of what makes each brand unique. It’s this foundation that helps us to unleash brand potential and create the unexpected. Some of the brands we have worked with include: BBC, Channel 4, Just Eat, Microsoft, National Trust, Penguin Random House, Unite Students, UWE,  and more.

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