#The Branding Blog

Branding, visual identity and logo design

3 completely different concepts that are part of a great brand

difference between branding, visual identity and logo design - cover image

Although logo design, branding and visual identity are often used as synonyms, they really aren’t the same thing. Moreover, there are very big differences.

The truth is that to have a durable business, you must build a strong brand and a consistent identity. It is not enough with logo design. As a matter of fact, it’s the tiny tip of the iceberg!

In order to understand the differences between branding, logo design and visual identity (and eventually build a great brand), there are three key concepts that you must keep in mind:

What is Branding?

When we talk about branding, we are talking about building a brand. This means that, through certain qualities of our brand, we seek to achieve an emotional response from the consumer.

And this emotional response to our branding strategies is the difference in the perception that users have when they compare our brand or product over any other on the market.

In order to reach the public, we must transmit messages that speak about the product, referring to the quality, utility or other characteristics and advantages.

In this sense, it is essential that the brand has recognizable signs and signifiers that are linked to the product.

When the brand connects with our senses, we can think that there is an user experience, which generates a link between the product and the customers.

We can define branding as follows:

Definition of branding

Branding is a complex system that focuses on placing a mark on the public’s unconscious by making use of emotions and feelings.

To this end, a series of tools and strategies are used to help identify and highlight the brand, generating experiences that will be remembered in the future.

Everything the company does, the way it communicates and relates, the tone with which it does it and the type of content it generates configures its personality and transmits its values.

In short, branding is the soul of a brand, what people thinks and say about your business. It is the process that tries to provoke emotion in the audience through strategies that provide value for both the client and the company itself.

Elements of branding

elements of branding

The following is a list of elements we’ll find in any branding strategy

  • Gut feeling
  • Relationships
  • Expectations
  • Emotions
  • Stories
  • Memories
  • Behavior

What is visual identity?

A corporate or visual identity is defined as the set of visual elements, created under certain “rules”, that a brand will use. The corporate or visual identity of a company belongs to its branding strategy. Therefore, it is not the same thing: one contains the other.

In a corporate identity we may find the logo and also different branding elements, such as corporate stationery, packaging and other visual elements and aspects that support the development of the brand.

To generate a visual identity, we need to define colors, fonts and other corporate elements, as long as they’re VISUAL. These definitions will be written in a brand guidelines book in order to allow for a consistent reproduction on any visual medium that is made for the company.

These visual media can be analogic (for example a printed brochure or leaflet) or digital (for example a website, social media ads, etc).

A visual identity strategy is a sure path to provide a strong visual unity in everything that we do for a company and its brand. Thus, we can achieve greater consistency, and highlight the strong points of a corporate brand.

Elements of visual identity

elements of visual identity

Some common elements related to visual identity are:

  • Stationery
  • Collateral
  • Signage
  • Positioning
  • Messaging
  • Color System
  • Font

What is Logo Design?

A logo is an easily recognizable and reproducible design element, often including a specific name, symbol and colors. It is used to publicize and identify the company or institution. A good logo design provides an immediate association with the company and the products or services offered by such company.

In other words: Logo design is the process of creation of a visual identification or brand mark for a business.

However, a logo does not necessarily define who or what the company represents in terms of values, user perception or cultural identification. That is the responsibility of the branding process, while the logo is the graphic representation of a company, institution, product or service.

It is essential to be aware of the importance of a well thought-out logo. Think about this: it will be the graphic and / or typographic symbol that will come to the mind of our audience. And also, a fast identification element that will help users to remember and identify your brand between many others.

Therefore, logo design is a subset of the corporate identity of a company. And corporate or visual identity is a subset of a branding strategy. Thus, it is clear that a logo must convey a number of things by itself. The choice of colors, fonts, shapes and everything that is part of it, is important even in its smallest detail. It is vital that a logo is properly integrated with the name, the slogan and the general mission of the company. But make no mistake: logo design is still a drop that is part of a much bigger sea: branding process.

Elements of logo design

elements of logo design

The most common elements associated to a logo design process are the following:

  • Symbols
  • Words
  • Color
  • Form
  • Shape

Note: we have a very comprehensive article on the 8 different types of logos


logo vs visual identity vs branding infographic
Logo design vs visual identity vs branding infographic. Click image for full size.
Usuarios en español: dar click aquí para ver la misma infografía en español.

As you can see, it’s very important to recognize these three concepts in order to create a succesful brand strategy. To recap, see below:

  • Branding: It is the set of expectations, memories, and user stories. Branding links them all together, and has a huge effect on the consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.
  • Visual Identity: They are the visual elements that represent a company. Companies usually make use of a brand manual that serves as a framework of reference in order to project a consistent image.
  • Logo Design: It’s the process by which we create the central and identifiable visual element that identifies a company, institution, business or product. Good logo design helps buyers discover, share and remember a company’s brand.

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