This post expands on a response I made to a post I read a few months back by a communications company called Vibrant Pulse. They posted under Brand v Logo and went on to very simply define the difference between the two. I responded with what follows because I feel strongly that branding and corporate or business identity is often overlooked and misunderstood by small business. This I believe is often because design and communication companies often present either confusing and complex or over simple explanations. Both of which will often leave a small business short-changed in terms of their expectation. You can view the original post at www.vibrantpulse.com/blog
A visual identity is the evolvement of a supporting presentation style for a logo that considers all aspects of visual presentation and helps recognition of the graphic mark. This might include details of an approved presentation style for a logo, supporting colours and typefaces, guidance on photographic styles and more.
Corporate identity takes visual identity to its most developed. It creates a persona designed to define how a business or organisation presents itself across all its activities both internal facing and external facing. It will often manifest itself as Corporate Guidelines that will tackle and define the presentation style for all types of communication across all media types. It will not only define visual presentation styles but also writing styles, tone of voice and behaviours particularly in areas such as sales and customer service.
It is important to understand that it is a designed presentation of a business or organisation. The aim is to present a philosophy to which the wider world can feel empathy with and that they have an ownership over. This in turn will drive loyalty to the business or organisation.
Brand is in effect the total of the efforts to present a business or organisation. For me the key difference is that Brand in not owned by the business or organisation. The people with whom they interact own brand.
Brand is the perception of a business or organisation, what a customer has to say about the experience of engaging. True, the discipline of branding exists. Trying to shape ones image is after all something we all do in our own ways so it is perfectly valid at a business level. Some of the tools for doing this are the elements I have discussed above but there are others such as public relations and advertising.
The best brands evolve from strong, simple principles and goals and stay true to their vision. For smaller businesses it is often about remaining true to themselves. Don’t be something you’re not or project an image that you’re not convinced by. For growing businesses it is important to project a positive and developing persona and smoothing out those rough edges is all part of the evolution of what you stand for. But the key principles of your vision must stay at the heart of everything you do.
We all have a Brand (even if we don’t have a logo or identity) because if we exist others will have a perception of us and that will form our Brand. Understanding your Brand and finding ways to shape it in order that it represents us in the way we believe it should is the key to being successful. Whether you’re a person, global organisation or simply a local business!
My advice to a small business is this. Understand that you have a brand. Take some time to consider how important it is to your business. If you already exist ask yourself how well you present yourself. Then write down what your business stands for. Keep it simple to the point. If you don’t have a logo, approach a graphic professional and engage in some dialogue to establish whether they are the right person to help you. Don’t simply engage someone to product logos. Talk to them about what you stand for and want to project. Remember you don’t need to have a global brand to get started but keeping in mind how the presentation of your business will develop will ensure that you remain in control of this aspect of how your business is perceived. Finally keep it simple to get started, but ensure it is well considered.