The intangibles of your brand and why logos come last

November 20, 2018

Brand stereotypes 

The biggest stereotype in branding is to equate brand with a logo. The thinking goes as follows:

You create a business plan, secure funding and name your company. You have a business but not a brand. So you hire a designer to give the name a font, a colour, and maybe an accompanying graphic or icon. Now      you have a brand.

But as I stated in my last article, your brand begins when your business begins. So if a brand is not a logo, or rather not just a logo, what is it?

You brand comprises your values, your personality, your intentions, as well as the perceptions of your stakeholders, particularly your customers.

Recently a client came to me in frustration after having fired three other agencies. I asked what the problem was and they said they weren’t satisfied with their visual identity. So I asked what their brand model was, what their strategy was, and they just looked blankly at me.

Because they hadn’t done any of the real work of branding. Instead they started with the visual identity, not knowing who they were or what they stood for. So it was no surprise they felt unsatisfied. They spent heaps of money going to market and they didn’t know who they were. But they had a pretty logo.

Brand audits

A holistic view of brand will give you much more impact in your business than looking at it simply as visual identity, or simply as communications. You need to get yourself clued up on the potential your brand offers your business. And the best way to do that is with a brand audit.

I will go into more detail about how to conduct a brand audit in a future article. And you can check out this excellent link here from MilesHerndon:

Check out this insightful article on what a brand audit actually is and the differentiation between internal and external branding.


But for now I want to explain why your brand is more than just a logo. Think of your favourite companies. Then ask yourself why they are your favourite companies.

It’s certainly not because of their logo. In fact their logo probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of them. And if they changed their logo tomorrow would you stop patronising them?

Your answers probably have to do with the quality of their product, or their price competitiveness, or their customer service, or their convenience. And that is what brand fundamentally is, more than a logo.

And the same holds true for your company.

What you believe, how you and your team engage with the public, the value you give your customers, and the way you differentiate from competitors is what constitutes your brand and makes it unique.

The logo, the colours, the taglines and marketing copy should come after you do the fundamentals, should flow from:

  • Your mission
  • Your values
  • Your market differentiation


Here’s a little something to get the creative juices flowing: “51 Mission Statements From The World’s Best Companies”


Start with a blueprint, not with the paint

You wouldn’t build a house without a blueprint, or try to repair leaks with a bucket of paint. Yet that’s the kind of thinking I often see in clients.

One of our clients wanted a refresh for their sales presentation. It was a thirty minute PowerPoint talk given by financial planners. They thought they just needed it to be jazzed up a little. Given a can of paint.

But the problem was an engagement one. They weren’t getting the sales they wanted not simply because the preso was flat, but because potential clients were bored, didn’t understand the material and didn’t connect with the presenters. We told them that rather than give a lecture on family finance, the financial planners needed to first establish a connection. We created an engagement guide for them and response rates rose immediately.

So start with the blueprints, not the paint. Ask yourself what really matters in what you do and understand how your brand extends to every touchpoint you have with customers.

And after you’ve done all that, maybe refresh your logo.  

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Darren Taylor

MD & Head of Strategy and Research

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