Which came first, the brand or the logo?Which came first, the brand or the logo?

We’ve all heard the classic question: what came first, the chicken or the egg? While this debate can go on and on and never seems to have an agreed upon answer, there is a correct way to answer what should come first, the brand or the logo?

This may throw some of you for a loop, but a brand comes before a logo. What many business owners fail to realize is that a logo is only a portion of your branding, NOT all of your branding. This means a logo isn’t going to tell your entire story, nor should it.

Logos are really visual cues signaling consumers to think about what your brand stands for. The logo itself doesn’t need to encompass everything your brand stands for but should inspire people to think about all the aspects of your business. In other words, your logo isn’t your brand; the thoughts people have when they see your logo is your brand.

With all of this in mind, you have the option to create a logo that is completely abstract, extremely realistic, or a combination of the two.

Realistic Icons

Creating a realistic logo is about using a design that portrays exactly what it means without any interpretation necessary. For instance, using an image that looks like a house in a logo actually represents a house and is probably for a real estate company.Realistic Logo Icons

Abstract Icons

Designing an abstract logo for your brand, on the other hand, takes a little extra thought because the design is meant to be interpreted since it means something else. Take the NBC logo for example; at first glance, it just looks like an arrangement of colored shapes above the “NBC” text. Upon reexamination, you’ll discover that the shapes actually form a peacock, representing NBC as a proud brand looking forward to the future. The six feathers of the peacock also represent the six divisions that make up the network.

Abstract Logo Icons

Remember that a logo is typically comprised of both an icon and text. The above images are just examples of abstract and realistic icons that can be incorporated into a logo.

If you choose to go the abstract route, make sure your version of abstract isn’t actually realism to most of society, otherwise your logo may be misinterpreted. Have other people tell you what they think your abstract logo looks like or represents before committing to it to avoid any potential confusion or inappropriate representations.

Design for Your Consumers

Once you’ve grasped the concept that logo design comes after establishing your brand, make sure you have a good understanding of who your target audience is. You need to know your customers because your logo design should cater to them rather than your own personal preferences. Of course you should like your logo, but remember that you’re not the one that needs convincing to engage with your brand; your audience needs to be at the forefront of your mind when working on designs because they’re the people you ultimately need to impress.

When creating your brand logo, don’t let yourself get too emotionally attached to certain designs that fog the big idea. Just because you’re obsessed with dogs doesn’t mean you need a puppy in your logo, especially if your brand has nothing to do with dogs. Stop being a baby, let go of your emotional attachment to an irrelevant graphic, and move on with an idea that will satisfy your customers.

Design to Stand the Test of Time

Another idea to keep in mind while designing your logo is to create one that will stand the test of time. While it is a good idea to draw inspiration from logo design trends, remember that you don’t want your logo to look outdated a year or two from now. You always have the option of updating your logo and making tweaks and changes to it, but hiring a professional to redesign your logo every year could get costly. By creating a timeless logo from the get go, you can avoid those extra expenses and also portray a consistent brand image. You don’t want to confuse people by making a new logo so different from the previous one that they don’t even know it’s for the same business.

Evolution of MasterCard Logo

The MasterCard logo has definitely stood the test of time, evolving with minor changes since 1969. Image from InstantShift.com.

For some businesses, a simple design is key to fostering an enduring look. But just because a logo is simple, don’t assume it was easy to make and doesn’t require the skills of a professional designer. It’s sort of like expressing an idea in one word instead of an entire sentence. Almost anyone can share how they’re feeling by describing it in detail, but it takes more time and effort to choose one word that sums up everything you actually mean.

Build a brand, then create a logo to represent it.

Long story short, logo design shouldn’t come first. Deciphering what your brand means, establishing a persona, and figuring out how your brand is unique from others should come first. Critically think about what you have to offer, how you will provide those products or services, and who you want to reach. Your business plan and goals as a company are meant to inspire your logo, so don’t just dream up some cute design you think could represent a brand. Build a brand, and then create a logo to represent it.

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