Branding vs. Logo: What’s The Difference?

by | Mar 14, 2023

Your logo is just the tip of your brand’s iceberg!

Each of us interact with brands on a daily basis, and yet sometimes don’t realize just how much goes into establishing one. While certain elements of a brand, like logos and color scheme, are obvious to all, there’s much more to creating and maintaining a brand than these design elements. When it comes to branding, a deliberate strategy in messaging, voice, and style are essential, and while the logo is an important aspect of a brand, it’s far from the only consideration.

A logo is an emblem or symbol, usually consisting of a combination of type, graphics, and colors, which is used to identify an organization easily and quickly. The very best logos become nearly synonymous with their organization so that viewers instantly know what it represents. 

Logos are generally the audiences first and most frequent touchpoint to a brand. A company’s logo can typically be found on its website and all other advertising material, so it’s critical they strongly reflect the brand — this is one reason logos and branding are so often conflated.

Some of the keys to creating an effective logo include: 

  • Recognizability: With the right logo, your brand can be recognized globally. The McDonald’s Golden Arches or Nike’s Swoosh are good examples of instantly recognized logos. Even without the brand name accompanying them, nearly everyone knows these logos the moment they see them.
  • Originality: Logos should be unique so that there’s no mistaking your brand for another. The strongest brands have characteristics that set them apart, so consider your organization’s personality when designing your logo. Also be sure to do a considerable amount of competitor research to ensure you’re creating something that’s distinct from other companies operating in the same space.
  • Simplicity: One of the biggest misconceptions about logos is that complexity equals legitimacy. In reality, your logo doesn’t have to be super intricate to make a statement. Often, the most simple logos make the most significant statements – think Apple or Google.
  • Resizability: Along with simplicity, resizability is another vital aspect of an effective logo. Generally, overly complicated or detailed logos don’t size down when used in profile pictures or email signatures. It’s important to consider whether your logo can size up or down for the various marketing needs of your brand. Remember that less is usually more when it comes to resizability.

As the visual representation of the company, logos are certainly important to the broader brand strategy. However, they are still only just one piece of the branding puzzle. To understand branding, you need to consider everything that drives an organization, from its reason for existence to its values to the personality with which it engages its audience.

> Read related: Is it effective to use a pot leaf logo for cannabis marketing?

What is branding? 

Branding is the process of establishing an idea, concept, or feeling that comes to mind when people think of a specific product, service, or company. Your brand comprises your company’s unique values and essence; it’s what pops into the average consumer’s mind when they think of your company. Branding is the work that’s needed to first cultivate and then maintain the brand.

In general, branding is all about building a story and narrative that describes your organization and gives it a distinct character. Within that identity, everything has to have a purpose. This can be achieved through a variety of branding techniques, which serve to reinforce the brand to your audience wherever you may reach them. 

What are the elements of a brand?

Elements of your brand include each and every unique aspect of the way you present yourself to customers– both tangible and intangible. Brand elements work together to create a recognizable image for your businesses and should remain consistent with achieving your intended experience for customers who come into contact with your business. Consider the following elements when breaking down your brand:

  • Brand messaging and voice: Consider how your business comes across when communicating with potential customers or clients. Your “brand message” can be thought of as what you want to say to the world, while your “brand voice” refers to how you want to say it. While some brands may benefit from a more light-hearted, humorous brand voice, others require a more informative, formal tone. Pick a brand voice that feels authentic to your target market and message. 
  • Color scheme and palette: Deciding on the suitable color scheme and palette for your brand will make your business more recognizable and appealing to your intended audience. Consider brands like Tiffany & Co., which have made color the staple of their branding. 
  • Tagline: A tagline is a catchy phrase or slogan that your brand uses to clearly communicate its message. While taglines are often thought of as simply short descriptions of a brand, they have the power to make a significant impact when used correctly (Hint: Think Skittles “Taste the rainbow.”)
  • Logo: Your brand’s logo should encompass all of your brand’s components into one graphic. They may be comprised of any combination of an icon or symbol and wordmark, though some well-known brands (like Coca-Cola) rely on a wordmark alone.  With the right logo, your brand can stand out from the crowd, no matter the industry.
  • Typography: Typography refers to the fonts that your brand uses in marketing and branding material. Choosing consistent fonts for your brand will help to make your marketing material more recognizable to potential customers. 
  • Brand values: Brand values can be thought of as the beliefs and ideals that your company stands for. These values play a significant role in guiding your brand’s story and are often thought of as a compass for all branding. 

Whether you’re just starting a cannabis business or thinking about how to grow your existing audience, branding is a critical element that cannot be overlooked.

Things to consider when branding

Once you’ve considered all the elements of your brand, it’s time to get branding. There are a lot to consider when creating and disseminating your brand. When first branding your company, it’s important to consider the following elements. Assessing these areas of your business will help you to ensure that your intent is shining through in your branding.  

  • Products and services: The items or services that you offer play a direct role in the intensity of your brand. For example, if you’re launching a CBD skincare line, your brand may center around a message of promoting health, well-being, and comfort.
  • Marketing and advertising: Your company’s marketing and advertising materials will help to establish and portray your brand identity. It’s essential to make sure that your marketing and advertising material match the vibe or aesthetic you want to give off. While CBD companies offering products for the elderly community might use large, easy-to-read graphics, a skateboard company’s marketing might be edgier.   
  • Packaging: It’s crucial to utilize branding techniques like your logo on all packaging and boxes containing your products. This will help products stand out from the crowd, and consumers will start recognizing them on and off the shelves.
  • Company culture: The way you interact with your team and employees will directly affect how they feel and speak about your company. Make sure that your company is maintaining a positive company culture that reflects the values and ethics of your brand.
  • Diversity, equity, and inclusion: DE&I is a key factor building a brand, encompassing everything from recruiting and hiring talent to the phrasing you choose in your messaging and marketing materials. In cannabis, considering DE&I is especially important, given the racially-biased history of the War on Drugs, the appropriation of vocabulary such as Jamaican slang, and the normalization of xenophobic terms like “marijuana” historically used to demonize immigrants. Building your brand with these considerations top of mind can help you avoid significant pitfalls and potential PR disasters.

Once a brand is developed, its unique values should be applied to all advertising and marketing material with the goal of creating a cohesive identity across all channels. 

How do brands and their logos work together?

When it comes to branding and logo, you can’t have one without the other. Logos appear at virtually every point of engagement with your audience, so it’s critical they are immediately recognizable and accurately convey your brand. Without a strong brand, though, your logo won’t represent anything that resonates with your audience, rendering it ineffective no matter how well-designed it may be. 

Think of your organization as a person and your brand as their personality, with a whole array of characteristics like its logo, typography, and color scheme contributing to your audience’s perception of it. If the brand is the personality of your company, the logo is its face; when people see your logo, you want them not only to recognize it right away but also connect it with the brand you’ve cultivated.

As the face of your brand, the logo should appear everywhere, including your website, brochures, packaging, email newsletters, business cards, merchandise, and so on. If it’s a tangible representation of your brand, it should include your logo. 

> Read related: Why cannabis businesses need a secure website.

Meanwhile, the brand serves to give your logo meaning. Without the elements of messaging, voice, values, and so on, the logo is simply a graphical design. Creating the personality of your brand is what infuses the logo with meaning. Brand and logo should be inextricably tied together, reinforcing one another in an ongoing cycle.

What about rebranding?

If you’re looking to put a fresh spin on your brand, you may also want to consider rebranding. Rebranding typically involves a company launching a new name, logo, typography, or other branding material to re-spark or develop further interest in the brand. Rebranding could also be used to more effectively separate brands from competitors or expand into a new space. 

Rebranding can be risky, especially for a well-established brand with a sizable following. When done correctly, it can reinvigorate interest in a brand, but when done incorrectly it can result in confusion or a backlash. It’s important to balance a brand refresh with maintaining the recognizability of the existing brand. 

For example, in 2019 Dunkin Donuts simplified its name to “Dunkin” to create a new and fresh energy for the brand while retaining the iconic colors and fonts established in 1973. Everything about Dunkin, including the menu, stayed the same. The slight name change, however, streamlines and modernizes the brand without discarding the immense value its reputation has built over the past several decades.

Sometimes a more dramatic rebranding may be in order, but keep in mind that doing so could result in confusion among your audience. Any time you’re considering a rebrand, it’s critical to be deliberate about your goals and think through the potential ripple effects of rebranding. The way you announce your rebrand to your audience is also important.

Kick-start your brand

The process of establishing your company’s logo and branding is essential to cultivating a loyal following. Branding is also a detailed and nuanced process, so it’s helpful to have an expert team of professionals at your disposal to strategize and implement your brand. At CannaContent, our experienced team delivers unified and compliant strategies to help you execute your vision and portray your brand correctly without all the stress.  We also provide comprehensive cannabis marketing services for everything from web design to content marketing to social media. If you’re in need of digital marketing support, don’t hesitate to contact CannaContent today to get started.