I LOVE a great logo. When all the threads of a company’s values, mission and culture are woven together and distilled into a symbol comprised of a few simple lines or shapes, I get far too excited (which is why I can watch videos like Airbnb’s symbol release over and over again).
But for all the beauty of a simple symbol or logo, a great logo is never enough to create a solid brand for any organization. We often over-estimate the power of a logo to unite and excite the masses, but a logo in itself is powerless.
As Vanessa Correa points out,
“A logo in itself isn’t anything, it’s just a thing.”
Vanessa is the Creative Director of the UC Office of the President , who led the team behind the controversial logo for the University of California (which was promptly rejected by the masses). In an interview with 99% Invisible (you’ve gotta check out this podcast), she points to brands like Nike, with their iconic “swoosh”, or Apple Computers’ apple icon. The swoosh or the apple in themselves are meaningless, but over years have come to stand for high quality products (or low quality, depending on your experience).
Imagine the first time anyone saw the Nike swoosh. What is it, a checkmark: What does it mean? Who’s gonna want that thing on the side of their shoes?
“The meaning is not baked in, you build the meaning over time, that’s what branding is.”
Your brand is more than your logo. It’s your reputation, what other people say about you. It’s built through the things your ads and other branding elements say, the quality of the products you sell, and through thousands of micro-interactions with customers (and what they tell their friends).
A great logo can’t fix or cover up a poor brand, but man, when a great company also has a beautiful logo, that’s pure magic.