Brand Identity Vs Logo Design — What You Need To Know

Brand identity and logo design — they’re not the same thing, but it’s easy to confuse the two. We’re here to set you straight.

April 2023
7 min

Every business needs a logo. But not all logos are created equal. 

Even if you have zero design skills, with today’s online tools, you can generate a free or low-cost logo for your business in seconds. That might be good enough when you first get started. But will it still cut it as your business expands? 

The honest answer? Probably not. When you let a low-cost, AI-assisted logo generator do the work for you, or even hire a freelancer to custom-design one, there’s a huge concept-shaped piece missing — your brand identity.

The thing is, in today’s competitive market, it’s getting harder and harder to differentiate one brand from another. That mountain outline and word mark combo might have looked like a steal when you handed over $99, but now you realize it looks like another company’s logo (think Toblerone, Coors, Paramount, Patagonia, Quicksilver, Evian, and more).

With a full brand identity, there’s a lot more going on behind the scenes, including mood boarding, sketching, research, and ideation — everything you need to ensure that your brand stands out from the competition and speaks to your target audience.

Every business has the same need — a logo that people remember.

What’s a logo design?

A logo design is a symbol or mark that represents a company or organization. Ideally, it’s the first thing that comes to mind when someone thinks of a brand. A well-designed logo needs to be simple, memorable, and easily recognizable. It also needs to reflect the values and personality of a brand. 

When a logo is designed in isolation — and not as part of a complete brand identity — it doesn’t truly represent the brand’s values and personality. At the same time, from a practical perspective, cheaper templated logo designs usually only come in two file types .png and .jpeg. 

In reality, companies need multiple file types and versions to ensure consistency across every touchpoint. This gives them a logo that’s easily scalable, wherever it’s needed — from social media profiles to company t-shirts. 

What is brand identity?

Brand identity covers all the visual and textual elements that work together to create a consistent and cohesive brand image. It includes logo design, colour palette, typography, imagery, and tone of voice. 

A strong brand identity aids recognition and helps differentiate a business in the minds of customers and stakeholders. Done right, it can establish trust, credibility, and loyalty, serving as a powerful means to build brand reputation and equity.

Successful brand identities should be consistent across all communication channels and touchpoints, reflecting the brand's values, personality, and positioning. A full brand pack from a design studio contains all the file formats and logo variations a company needs to achieve this.

Common misconceptions about brand identity

A common misconception is that logo design is the only element of a brand identity. 

While logo design is an important part of the brand identity, it is only one piece of the puzzle. A full brand identity pack includes a range of elements that work together to create a strong and consistent brand image.

Another misconception is that ‘brand identity’ is only for large corporations. 

Regardless of size, any business can benefit from a clear and consistent brand image. A full brand identity pack can help any business stand out from the competition and build trust with potential customers.

Key elements of brand identity 

Brand identity includes a range of design assets alongside your logo. Here are the key elements:

  • Colour palette: A well-chosen colour palette can evoke emotions and help communicate the brand’s personality.
  • Typography: The typefaces used in a brand's visual identity ensure consistency, and help communicate its personality and values.
  • Imagery: Images and graphics can bring a brand to life, creating a visual language that customers will recognize.
  • Tone of voice: The words and language used in a brand's messaging create a consistent and recognizable brand voice.
  • Brand guidelines: A comprehensive set of guidelines will ensure consistency across every touchpoint and all elements of a brand identity.

5 tips to ensuring consistency and cohesion for your brand

Here’s how to achieve consistency and cohesion for your brand:

  1. Start with a clear brand strategy: Before designing any visual elements, get a clear understanding of your brand's values, personality, and target audience through detailed market research.
  1. Establish brand guidelines: A comprehensive set of brand guidelines will ensure that all the elements of your brand's visual identity are used consistently, no matter where you show up online or offline.
  1. Use a consistent colour palette: The use of a consistent colour palette across all visual elements helps create a cohesive brand image. Choose a palette and stick to it everywhere — from your website to business cards.
  1. Carefully choose typography: Typography should be chosen to reflect the brand's personality and used consistently across all visual elements. Limit the number of fonts in play and ensure they’re visually compatible. 
  1. Develop a visual language: This includes consistent use of imagery and graphics can help create a recognizable brand identity.

Advice for small business owners

When deciding between investment in a brand identity or a logo design, it's important to consider the long-term benefits of a brand identity pack. 

A full brand pack from a design studio will give you a suite of logo files in every version and format you’ll ever likely need in a range of digital and print formats. 

Here are some places you might need it:

  • website
  • social media
  • marketing materials
  • email
  • letter header
  • billboards
  • business cards
  • merchandise

Each of these uses will need different file formats, colours, and variations.

With a full brand pack, you can successfully roll out your logo anywhere — wherever it’s needed — without spending more time, money, and effort converting it into different file formats (whilst trying to retain the highest resolution). 

A brand pack also gives you clear brand guidelines. The great thing about having a brand guidelines document is that it helps you control how your brand shows up at every touchpoint — no matter whether content is being handled in-house or by an external contractor or agency.

Brand guidelines help you — and your suppliers — to ensure brand consistency, which format to use, how to scale the logo, and even, what not to do with it. A logo design on its own won’t cover these bases, which can lead to inconsistencies in your messaging and inferior image quality, impacting perceptions of your brand. 

A full brand identity pack helps your business create a strong and memorable brand image that sets it apart from the competition, establishing trust with potential customers and ensuring a professional image.

Measuring the success of a new brand identity 

The success of your brand identity can be measured in a number of qualitative and quantitative ways. Here are some metrics you can use to evaluate its effectiveness:

  • Brand awareness: The extent to which your brand is recognized and remembered by its target audience.
  • Customer loyalty: The degree to which customers feel an emotional connection to your brand and do repeat business with you.
  • Sales: A higher quality brand image can help raise the perceived value of your brand’s products and services, attracting higher-paying customers.
  • Brand consistency: The extent to which your brand identity is used consistently across all touchpoints.

Brand pack or logo design?

Whether you opt for a logo design or a full brand identity pack is your choice. It comes down to the needs of your business, your budget, and your future aspirations. 

An off-the-shelf logo design (built using a template) can be an ideal quick-fix for a business that’s just getting off the ground and has limited funds. But over time, as the business grows, inconsistencies in how the brand shows up across different touchpoints can take its toll.  

With a brand identity, you get much more than just a logo design. A full brand pack gives you a collection of visual and verbal elements that work together to create a consistent and memorable brand image that can last for years to come.  And it’s not just for enterprise-scale organizations! 

Investment in a full brand identity pack helps create a strong and lasting impression with your target audience, and other stakeholders. Take a look a rebrand we did for trimble group here, to see an example of how a brand identity and visual system can help create a cohesive look and feel across all touch points.

Looking to refresh your brand's visual system your small business or organization? Khula can help! Book a discovery call