What is a logo?

Apr 18, 2017

A question so simple, yet still so daunting in our industry. Despite the numerous books and industry papers about this topic, we still find ourselves having to go over the semantics of this question with clients and potential clients.

To start off then, let’s get one thing straight: A logo is an identifier for your business. Just like your name and features, a logo distinguishes you from others. And just like your name and features, they don’t even begin to divulge who you are.

Does a logo convey your entire brand story?
Does a logo express all your business values?
Does a logo directly communicate your line (or lines) of business?
The short answer is no.

Think of the following logos standing alone, without all their usual brand communications and activations (the same can be said for lesser known brands):

  • Apple
  • Nike
  • Louis Vuitton
  • Coca Cola
  • Samsung
  • McDonald’s
  • Virgin

On their own, these (and most other) logos simply enable consumers to “spot” them from a crowd or a distance.
On their own, these logos do not create an emotional bond with consumers. On their own, these logos can stand for virtually anything (so to speak).

It is, indisputably, everything the business does and communicates that generates an image in the consumers’ minds. This is how a brand is created. A logo is merely a baseline from where a brand launches its communications.

Let’s take Louis Vuitton as an example. This iconic fashion brand, one of the leading fashion houses in the world (not to mention one of the oldest), renowned for its leather goods, exemplary craftsmanship and trendsetting creations, is one of the world’s most valuable luxury brands. Its logo evokes class and its monogram is used as a staple on practically all its products, but what has truly made it a remarkable brand over the years, above and beyond the world-class products it creates, is the way in which it communicates its brand.

From ongoing design innovations, creative collaborations with fashion household names like Marc Jacobs and Nicolas Ghesquière, forging an impressive celebrity following with the likes of Keith Richards, Madonna, Sean Connery, Angelina Jolie and even Mikhail Gorbachev, elaborating campaigns like “where will life take you”, focusing on the joy of the journey and travel, signing on A-list brand ambassadors to creating memorable shows… It is all these initiatives combined that create consumer attachment to the brand.

In a nutshell, it is imperative not to confuse a logo with a brand and the above example illustrates the difference without us having to delve into textbook lingo. It is equally important not to think of a logo vs. a brand. These two go hand in hand; you need a logo to create a platform for your brand and you need a brand to give meaning to your logo.

So, when you’re launching a new business and need to create a new logo or when you’re revamping your existing logo, one key thing to remember is that you cannot possibly convey everything about your business in this one logo. What you can do is convey one clear idea that can carry your brand for the long haul.

Here are some key questions you need to be able to answer before creating (or re-creating) a logo:

  1. How can you describe your target audience?
  2. If you had to leave your audience with ONE idea about your business, what would it be?
  3. What is the common denominator in your business?
  4. What is the impression you want to leave on your target audience?
  5. Where and how do you plan on using your logo?

Answering these questions will enable you to give your agency a clear design brief and in return, will enable your agency to deliver spot-on results.

If you’re looking to create a logo and a branding platform, connect with us.