Your Brand Is More Than “Just a Logo”

When you're ready to hire a designer, you need clear strategy and intention in your branding, not just a logo.

On my website, I offer branding as part of a comprehensive package that includes a logo suite, brand inspiration, color palette, type system, a style guide and more. But very often, people want to hire me for “just a logo.” But here’s the thing: it’s never just a logo, for both deep and practical reasons.

Let’s start with the deep reasons. To begin with, when we say brand, it means more than just the visual components like a logo. Your brand starts with perception: how people view your business, what they’re saying about it, and what they think about you, along with the things you project, your marketing, and the work you do. That’s a lot, isn’t it? So much of branding is intangible, but how we interact with our customers and clients matters so much and helps to shape that.

The good news is that you can have a brand long before you might even dream of hiring a designer or business strategist, coach, or an employee. By focusing on conveying a clear message and values, you can build brand credibility through your actions and services or products.

So if your brand is mostly what you say and do and how you’re perceived, do the visuals matter? Yes! As a component. Our culture is very visually driven, and we form opinions fast. Having a visual brand identity (that’s the less nebulous part of branding!) allows you to have some control over how people perceive you and what impression they get. But that also means that even just a logo can impact how people think of you, what they understand about your business, and whether they want to learn more and ultimately buy from you. For a personal brand, they’ll form assumptions about who you are based on your color choices, the fonts on your website, and any visuals they receive.

When it comes to your business, a logo is never just a logo. #nikkitaco_design

Even if all you hire a designer for is a logo without full branding, a good designer will create that logo with clear intention and strategy, and take you through a brand discovery journey to get clear on what that should be. It’s also helpful to remember that a logo can’t and shouldn’t do everything.

A good logo should evolve with your business and hold up to your growth. It needs to scale to large sizes and read well when reduced to an inch of space. Which means it needs to be simple and clear, while still conveying something meaningful. But because of that simplicity and timelessness, your logo can only convey some of your brand values; you can use a more comprehensive brand identity to provide a fuller picture.

Your visual branding is a toolkit—you need more than one tool to do the job, and each tool has its role. Your color can help create a sense of warmth or hospitality; a clean sans-serif typeface can feel modern and minimal; an illustrative pattern can convey personality, and your logo can tie all of those elements together to leave a clear impression of you or your business.

It’s also rare that just one logo will do the job for you in all circumstances. I provide my clients with a logo suite—or logo variations—because logos are displayed in so many different contexts that what works for one may not work for all. If your logo is your profile image on social media, it may need to communicate well in a small circle, where a simple monogram or mark might work best. On your website where you want to fit important information before someone scrolls, a horizontal version of your logo might fit best with your navigation. If you’re having a business card printed, you may want to show of your logo with both your mark and your logotype displayed prominently and give it space to shine. Having a logo suite gives you both compositional and style variations so you can be flexible and still consistent.

Your brand is what you say and do and how people perceive you, not just your visuals. #nikkitaco_design #branding

Does this mean it’s bad if your business doesn’t yet have a logo like this? Not necessarily. Remember that you are building your brand even without any design in place. If you’re just starting out, take the time to really get clear on your business’ core values, and create consistency in how you communicate. That way, when it comes time to hire a designer, you’ll have a clearer idea of what you need.

And remember that evolution and growth are good things, and you can be transparent about it! Certain businesses will need professional branding when they’re first starting out—maybe because they are selling a product that needs to attract customers and look beautiful, or they have a brick and mortar that needs to draw people in—but many online service providers just need the basics as they grow.

My advice to those just starting out is to keep it simple and let your words and actions convey what design maybe can’t just yet. You could also consult with a designer or strategist to help you sort through your priorities and gain clarity. As you scale and grow, you may find that you need comprehensive visual branding to reflect the growth in your business and attract your ideal client or customer. That’s when a lot of clients come to me in need of new branding. Remember that it’s an investment and a relationship; seek more than just a logo—seek a comprehensive collaboration.

If you’re seeking a partner to collaborate with you on your design, I offer something for businesses just starting out, newer businesses not ready for full branding but in need of guidance, and for businesses that are established and ready for their branding to communicate their core values.

Sign up for my 5 Days to Better Branding E-Course

For new business owners or anyone in need of some brand clarity, sign up to join my 5 Days to Better Branding e-course, which goes live in October. You will also be added to my mailing list.

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Are you somewhere in between on your business journey? I offer a consult called Discover Your Brand to help you clarify your brand vision, with exclusive design add-ons to get professional and flexible design elements available only to Discover Your Brand participants. It’s available this month at an introductory rate!

If you’re experiencing growth or are established in your business, I can help your brand identity match your business values and attract your ideal client with beautifully strategic design.