by Quantal Langford, Langfordesign
What exactly is a brand? It’s a very trendy word nowadays in the business world. Even the clients that I work with get confused with the actual concept of branding or brand development in regards to their logo. In this series I want to give you a different perspective on what the term “branding” actually is and how you can better connect your brand with your audience.
As a designer my job is to effectively communicate one’s vision and ideas into physical form and connect with a target audience in a way that increases the overall value of one’s brand. Take in mind that it may not result in a bottom line value at first. Through brand recognition, positioning, experience, meaning, character, and crafting the story of the brand in a way that connects with their audience emotionally, you will eventually convert that customer into your tribe. The way a person experiences your brand from first recognition, through their experience and story of the brand (website, marketing material, communications) even to customer service encompasses the vast spectrum of what branding is.
The first mistake that many actually make is creating the logo first with no awareness of their audience, their story or their vision of the brand. I’ve seen this before when a business changes their name, their logo, or even both consistently. So building the inner foundation of your brand is key before any designer can create the logo and brand identity to be the container of your brand.
A logo or logotype is any name or icon or both that’s been designed to mark the property of specific goods or services. A logo can vary stylistically. You can have a wordmark which is a purely typographic logo. The first that comes to mind for me is Coke, with their script font that’s commonly used. In the athletic arena could be UCLA Bruins. Another type of logo is a signature which is a combination of the wordmark with an icon. Examples could come from anywhere for this as this is the more commonly used logotype. From tech industries to the athletic field. Examples include: BP, Pepsi, Gatorade, McDonald’s, and the Golden State Warriors.
Then we have your icons. Which standalone without the use of a wordmark. Great examples are: Nike, Apple, GE, Instagram. You can glance right away at their logo and automatically gather an emotional experience of what these brands represent. The emotional and psychological power of a logo is in direct correlation with the brand development that goes on behind the scenes.
What exactly makes a great logo? You will get many different answers. I’m big on creating iconic, memorable and responsive logos and brand identities that connect with target markets and stand the test of time. Will there always be slight updates to a logo? Yes. But the core elements of what makes your logo great should always be present. This keeps brand loyalty with your customers. You may have some businesses create a logo that’s “trendy” with the time. This is an absolute no. If you do this, you run the risk of your logo being “outdated” and needing to go back to the drawing board to revise your old logo.
With the rise of digital media, your logo has to be able to hold its own on various mobile devices. So having the flexibility of your logo responding to various digital devices is the norm now.
So look back at your logo, does it really communicate what you are trying to portray to your market? Are you comparing your logo to your competition or creating your own unique vision and story in the marketplace that’s contained with a beautiful logo that doesn’t necessarily have to explain what you do, but rather the inner story of your “why?” When you craft a logo from that perspective, then you are truly branding your specific service or product.
In part 2 of the Inside Out series we are going to go a little deeper into your brand and talk about the inner vision of your brand, personal or business, and how you drive everything that’s produced from this vision to help market your brand and create something special, memorable and organic.
About the writer: Quantal Langford runs Langfordesign, a purpose driven, creative studio based in Oceanside, Ca. Focusing on graphic design and brand development for B2C businesses, non-profit organizations, and athletic departments and helping create their own unique voice. He also runs an inspirational/fitness lifestyle brand called Just Heart Apparel.