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Branding Basics: Logo Vs Brand What's The Difference?

black and white image of the word logo and mock-up of branding with a stack of dollar bills with wings attached

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As a branding agency, one of the most common misconceptions we encounter is understanding the difference between a brand and a logo.

Over the last couple of years, the marketing spotlight has shifted to the power of branding, making most business owners aware of the importance of a strong, memorable brand. The steps to follow to build and market a brand is still confusing for many small business owners.

Like any area of specialization, a lot of jargon and acronyms are thrown around, making understanding the nuances of branding and marketing difficult. While most business owners don’t need to get into all the nitty-gritty details, it’s important to know the basics of branding and marketing so you spend your budget on what will be most impactful for your business.

Many businesses rush into creating a logo long before they have any strategic elements of their brand in place, however, you should establish the essence of your brand long before you create your logo. So, to clear the air, a brand is not your logo and your logo is not your brand.
If you find that explanation as clear as mud, don’t worry, we’re going to break it down further.

What is a brand?

Now that we know a brand isn’t a logo, let’s rule out a couple of other things as well. A brand isn’t a product, it’s not a service, and it isn’t even the fancy guide you have to follow. 

A brand is a perception, feeling, belief or experience that lives in the hearts and minds of others. It frames the relationship that is built with a product or service and conveys the personality and values of a business. In other words, a brand isn’t what you say it is, it’s what other people say it is! 

Your brand is all about perception and differentiation. It is the backbone of all of your marketing since it determines who you are targeting and how you will appeal to them and the place you want to occupy in the mind of your customers, employees and media.  

When designing a brand you want to be laser-focused on communicating:

  • Who you are
  • What you do
  • Why it matters


Communication is more than just getting a message out. From the language you use to the way you interact with your customers, to the smell of a store, every touchpoint with your business is adding up to the ideal perception. You are actively framing your business in the minds of your others. This means understanding your target market is key. 

So, before diving into creating a logo, it’s crucial to determine your brand identity. See what we were saying about the nuanced jargon?

What is a brand identity?

When we say brand identity, everyone gets super eager to jump into the logo design again but slow your roll, tiger! We’re not quite there yet. 

Your brand identity is your brand personality and how it is expressed. According to Hubspot:

To create the ideal perception, you need to do your research to understand to who your brand is trying to appeal. Once you understand your target audience you can begin to craft your personality and brand messaging to go along with it.

A brand strategist can help you develop your brand messaging including your mission statement, vision statement and company values. These elements are critical to defining what your brand stands for and behaviours that will lead to the success of your business.

Once you’ve identified your customers, understood their wants and needs and outlined your messaging you can finally start to tackle your visual identity. 

At this point, you’ll want to find a designer that you can share all of this information with to create the visual elements that will communicate your brand’s personality. At a minimum this includes:

  • Brand colours
  • Logo
  • Typography 
  • Imagery 

What is a logo?

Finally, after all that work, we get into the logo. Most people know what a logo is. You see them everywhere. They can be a symbol, word or combination of the two that act to signify a brand.


Your logo is the most recognizable identifier of your brand. It is the way most people will know who you are. In fact, over 75% of consumers recognize brands by their logo first. With 89% of marketers claiming brand recognition as their top objective, to say it’s important to your business is an understatement. It’s an area of your business worth investing in.

What makes a logo design good?

It’s safe to say that not all logos are created equal. One study found that 60% of consumers won’t engage with a brand that has an ugly logo – even if it has positive reviews. Yikes! – that’s a lot of stock to put into a logo. 

So, what makes a logo good anyway? Even if you can’t design a logo (please leave this to the pros!), it’s good to know what you should be looking for if you hire someone to create one for you.

Here are 5 questions to ask when assessing a logo design:

  1. Is it generally attractive?
    Admittedly, this is a subjective question, but considering the stats, it’s one worth considering. While you probably have great taste, consider showing the design to your friends, family or colleagues to get their opinion – especially if they’re your target audience. 

  2. Is it marketable?
    Your logo should instill a sense of trust in your audience. Consider applying your logo to everything from ads to packaging, especially if you are a product-based brand. Does it present the image of your brand that you want to portray?

  3. Is it memorable?
    On average, we must see a logo between 5 and 7 times before we remember it. When deciding on a logo design, take your time. Be sure to sit with it for at least a couple of days and go back to it to see which ones stuck with you the most. Designers shouldn’t expect an immediate yes or no when it comes to a logo design.

  4. Is it versatile?
    This is a big one that many amateur designers and business owners don’t consider. Think long-term about your brand and imagine applying your logo to just about anything and everything. Will the design work if it’s really big on a billboard or scaled down to fit on a pen? How about if you embroider it on a shirt? The beauty of most logos lies in their simplicity, so avoid highly detailed or complex logo designs since they might be challenging to apply at scale.

  5. Is it relevant over time?
    Unlike campaigns, websites or marketing collateral your logo should be somewhat timeless. You can think of it as the face of your brand – you want it to be recognizable when people see it, which means that it won’t change often, but rather evolve. 


If you look at major brands such as Coke-a-Cola, Nike or Starbucks you will see slight evolutions, but no major changes over time to their logos. That’s because they’ve created logos that stand the test of time. For this reason, avoid trendy designs or colours that are likely to go out of style in the next year or so. Updates to your brand elements are encouraged to keep your brand relevant but your overall logo should stay relatively constant. 

What is marketing then and how does it fit into the equation?

Once you have fleshed out your brand identity you’ve set the foundation to start marketing your business. Marketing is the act of promoting and selling your brand, product or service.

To successfully market your business, you will need to apply the research about your customers and your messaging using various marketing channels, depending on where your audience consumes information.

While you’re likely familiar with the traditional forms of marketing including print or billboard advertising, commercials or live events, modern marketing also includes:

  • Internet marketing:
    This is the process of creating an online presence for your business. The easiest way for your business to start on this journey is to create a website.

  • Content Marketing:
    A great way to build your brand and connect to your audience is to create long-form content for your audience. This can be in the form of blogs, vlogs or email marketing to help educate, entertain and connect with your audience and position you as an authority in your industry.

  • Social Media Marketing:
    With the advent of platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and TikTok, brands can connect with their audience more casually than ever before. Social media marketing allows brands to express their personality and create engaging short-form content. You can use social media for both organic marketing (unpaid, strategic use of various platforms) and paid marketing through boosted posts and social media ads.

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO):
    While we often think of SEO as a technical term applied to website design, it majorly impacts your marketing. SEO is the process of optimizing your website content so you are found online when people search for terms related to your industry. 

  • Search Engine Marketing:
    In contrast to SEO, search engine marketing is a paid form of search advertising that allows you to pay companies like Google to be featured at the top of search engine results for particular keywords. Search engine marketing typically works on a pay-per-click (PPC) model where you pay based on the number of times a promoted link is clicked.

  • Video Marketing:
    Similar to traditional commercials you’re used to seeing on television, video marketing is the process of using video to advertise your brand on platforms such as YouTube. Similarly to Search Engine Marketing, this is a paid service that works based on keywords related to your brand.

Final Thoughts

While branding doesn’t always need to be complex, it is important to recognize that it is much more than just your logo. Your brand is a living part of your business that will continue to grow and evolve with you over time. It is also the first fundamental step to creating an effective marketing strategy that gets noticed.

If you’ve read this article and think you could use some help defining your brand, reach out for a free discovery call and create a thriving brand that gets noticed.

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About Cedar Creative

We’re a team of highly skilled creatives that loves to create impact-driven brands and experiential marketing campaigns that get your business noticed.

With a wide range of skills, we are your single destination for all your marketing needs from initial strategy to content creation and marketing execution. 

We approach every project with a dynamic strategy that will help your business grow and thrive as your market evolves.

Let us help you create successful brands your audience loves and connects with.

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