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And they are independently interrelated but used interchangeably.
Birth of the confusion
For someone from the branding industry, this question might seem weird, or even foolish- since there is a vast difference. Although, an experienced individual from the industry will see what would have led people to ask this question. The answer has multiple sides. As a branding studio, we come across many such people who don’t know better. We, at Slangbusters, have taken it as our responsibility to deal with such confusion and bust it so that people can be a part of their own branding process.
The most common misconception that plagues the industry is that the logo is the brand. This could be the seed of why graphic designing and branding services are confused with each other, or worse, deemed identical.
Another reason for this miscalculation could be the fact that people are visual creatures. We remember images better than words. Before the branding industry came into being, there were firms, companies with logos, and icons for recognition purposes. People associated the icon with an entity, and that was it. Today, the icon is a concoction of many intangible feelings along with the basic function of identification. This resulted in what we can call for the lack of a jargon, ‘the tip of the iceberg bias.’
We only see the tip of the iceberg and assume that that is what exists rather than looking beyond the visible and acknowledging even the intangibles.
The population who did not know about branding associated it with the only aspect of branding that they could see- the graphics. This, along with the magic of keywords resulted in an endless cycle of constant delusion. People looking for branding services would look up what they knew about branding- logos. To attract these potential clients, marketers of branding agencies started calling it what people called it, instead of taking up the task of correcting them.
Even after branding became a common term within businesses and startups, people who did not believe in branding, or thought of it as a luxury instead of necessity dismantled the concept and started using aspects individually. They jugaad-ed their way out of branding by investing in a logo. It is easy to spot these firms- look for logos that are acronyms of the company name in a color chosen by a novice with a bootlegged version of Adobe CC.
American art director Paul Rand sums it up “A logo derives its meaning from the quality of what it symbolizes, not the other way around.”
The (visual) elements of the brand
We can call it the design magic. Only, that here the credit goes to the magic and not the magician. A brand is about the look and feel. The look includes:
Logo, brandmark & signage
Color & Typeface
Products & Packaging
Apparel, stationery, and ephemera
These are the tangible visual devices that are perceived as the whole brand. However, the brand is so much more than that.
This is the feeling part of the ‘look and feel’ that a brand enfolds. It is consumer-driven.
This intangible part of the brand is the result of the branding process, which includes:
Relationship with the audience
Brand vision and promises
Brand personality and the list goes on.
This is how the brand is more than just the logo. When described, it is the feeling, the values, the beliefs, and the identity that create the brand. A logo is the visual representation of the above.
Who makes the brand?
When asked, what is branding, there will be as many definitions as the number of people who have been asked. One of these definitions that Jeff Bezos has worded says, “Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.” Which means, the audience decides what your brand is. In a technical sense, a brand is what the branding agency will create. The common perception is that the brand is graphic design. Now, what of all this is the reality?
To understand the hierarchy in a branding studio, let us compare it with a film set.
‘Brand’ is a word that has lost its essence thanks to overuse in wrong contexts. If you notice, we have used the words brands and businesses precisely and not for linguistic aesthetic. They are different. The word ‘brand’ has been misused by people in the industry and outside.
Designers are custodians of the visual identity. They create and take care that each and every element is compelling and consistent across all environments.
A branding officer helps all the profiles working on a project and marries it all to form a brand.
One in the absence of the other
It won’t be surprising if you find the brand strategist and the designer debating very regularly. Aesthetics mean nothing without a strategy and a good strategy is useless without expression. A film with excellent cinematography will still find it difficult to earn at the box office in the absence of the story and even with a good story, if the film fails to be visually beautiful, it fails to attract viewers.
— by Manas, Content Strategist, Slangbusters Studio