It's arguably the most important thing about communicating your organization or production. It's how you let people know it's you when they receive your messages. No, it's not your logo. It's your brand. There's a difference—a big one. Let's talk...
"Brand" and "logo" are often conflated when discussing them, but they're two very different things, and the distinction is important to make. A logo is a unique visual mark used to represent your company. A brand is a large toolbox of visual elements and intangible ideas and guidelines that are used to identify who you are.
Your logo is just one element of this toolbox and, while it's the most prominent and recognizable element in the toolbox, it's still one of many tools at your disposal that should be used in concert with one another for optimally effective brand communication.
The typically recognizable parts of a brand can include a color palette (both individual tones as well as recommended pairings of them), fonts (and how to use them), and collateral templates (stationery, advertisements, etc.). Other elements of a brand that are just as important, but not always thought of, are photography tone and editorial style. The tone of the imagery you use with your brand should be consistent for brand cohesion, as well as the style and tone in which your copy is written.
Whether or not it's immediately apparent, every piece of communication coming from you is a project you need all elements of your brand for—you wouldn't try and build a gazebo without an entire set of tools, even if it seems like you could make do with only one or two.
All of these elements work together to create consistency in the messages you send out into the world. A quick glance at an ad or scan through some copy should be enough to let someone know it's you, without having to solely rely on your logo as a calling card. The tools in the brand toolbox take the pressure off your logo being the sole identifying factor of who the message or advertisement came from.
Whether or not it's immediately apparent, every piece of communication coming from you is a project you need all elements of your brand for—you wouldn't try and build a gazebo without an entire set of tools, even if it seems like you could make do with only one or two. Without a solid brand in place, you'll perpetually be banging a nail with a screwdriver, because the screwdriver is all you've got.
Why not just get a hammer, too? Don't try to force your logo to do 100% of the work. There are other tools in the box (and if not, drive to Home Depot and buy them) that are eager to help tell your story.
Looking for some inspiration? Check out the archive at Brand New by Under Consideration for some truly gorgeous (and a few head scratching) identities for cultural institutions.
Photo: Alvin Chua