The Differences Between a Logo, an Identity, and a Brand

There’s a lot of misconception when it comes to the differences between a logo, an identity, and a brand. People in marketing and design may have a decent grasp on the definitions and applications, but how about you?

If your are a bit unclear, or you have absolutely no idea, or you just want to see I’m for real or full of  crap, then read on. I’m keeping this post very simple, with three categories along with descriptive bullet points to define each.

Before moving on, it must be said: there is some overlap for all three of these categories. For example, it’s not exactly wrong to call a logo a brand because of the origin of the word ‘brand’ (the hot iron rod with the company’s icon or word mark, used on shipping boxes and livestock).

Okay, now onto the meat.

A logo is

  • the representation of the organization in its simplest form
  • the emblem or mascot of the organization
  • the foremost element that triggers the feelings of consumers
  • critical for an organization to be recognizable
  • a trademark

An identity is

  • the different physical elements of the company that work together and customers come in contact with
  • the complete package of company materials: your logo, business cards, email signatures, websites, ads, your employee uniforms, store layout design, package design, corporate jingle, etc.

A brand is

  • a concept, not a concrete object
  • the foundation of your entire marketing framework
  • the emotional and psychological relationship between a company and consumers
  • what people think and feel when they experience your company (their gut feeling)

Next time you’re sitting down with your marketing team or your business coach you can show that you know what you’re talking about. Not only can you show off your knowledge on the subject, but you can implement this it into the planning stage of your next business venture or product. (Hint: envisioning the brand you want to create comes way before designing your logo and corporate identity.)

Did I miss something? Leave a comment and let me know.

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34 Responses to The Differences Between a Logo, an Identity, and a Brand

  1. naved says:

    this is the most comprehensive and most authentic explanation i have ever seen on this subject, yes alot of people do confuse brand, logo and identity with each other, great article :)

  2. Lennart says:

    Very clear article! Brand and Identy are being used daily, sometimes even as synonyms, but there is of course a signifcant difference between the two.
    Nice blog btw…Keep the good stuff comin’.

  3. Robert says:

    Will do, Lennart! Thanks for the good words.

  4. lightaan says:

    clear, brief and nice. Weldone.

  5. Tatijana says:

    Thanks for the explanation…..

  6. michael desta says:

    really u deserve great appreciation for the answer. clear and precise unconfused. i need more to know including how to create brand.

  7. Neil says:

    Normally the branding and marketing people merge ‘brand and ‘identity’ and separate the creation of a ‘logo’ as a totally different activity. We don’t deal with clients in this way and it’s good to see someone else has separated the 3 elements, as we do.

  8. samane says:

    explaining with example please

    thank you

  9. Logomotion says:

    (right brain) I’m a logo designer (left brain) I’m a marketing thinker. I don’t completely agree. In logo design, Logo-Identity-Brand is just one. Logo is a mark. Brand is a mark. Identity is a recognition of the mark. A great logo should encompass these 3 design aspect all-together. It is only the Marketing and Advertising that separates these 3 important application to help them focus on what to achieve. Strategies in building a brand is very different in building an identity.

    Mascot is not a logo. Mascot is an Identity. It helps you recognize the brand. Logo-Identity-Brand becomes 3 different entity because of marketing strategies, plans and actions. Nike. What’s their logo? What’s their brand? What’s their Identity? Don’t we all point down to one? The “Swoosh” and that’s a logo, Isnt? :) Well this is my viewpoint as a designer.

    • This is my story and I’m sticking to it, Logomotion.

      Logo, identity, and brand are not the same. There is a lot of definition overlap and language usage semantics going on, but these three ideas are still not the same.

      Here’s what it comes down to:
      – The logo is the trademark.
      – The identity is what consumers can see, hear, smell, touch, and taste.
      – The brand is the feeling consumers get and the perceptions they make once they experience the organization.

      As an analogy:
      – The logo is your signature.
      – The identity is your clothing, hair, scent, voice, personality, preferences, and demeanor.
      – The brand is what people think of you, and how they talk about you when you’re not around.

      And for Nike:
      – The logo is the swoosh.
      – The identity is the motivational tagline, “Just do it”; the innovative, quality products; the emotional, story-telling ads that empower and inspire people; the next-level websites that are simple yet pack a lot of punch; etc.
      – The brand is the way people feel motivated, inspired, and empowered. It’s the feeling that they, too, can be exceptional and victorious, just like any athlete. In the consumer’s eye, Nike is not just a company; it’s a lifestyle that they strongly and loyally identify with.

  10. DJ Bridgers says:

    Thank you for your explaining the difference to the simplest form. I’m now more confident and feel more educated when I’m speaking with clients.

  11. Mark Angelo says:

    Thank You So Much!

  12. […] (Facts on brands and brand identities informed by Better Business Brand.) […]

  13. mafundwana says:

    Thank you for the distinction of the 3, but now from your definition of a Brand, I couldn’t help but notice that in a broader sense your definition of a Brand is that of a reputation. Can you help me understand if it a substitute term or what.

    • You may not be able to replace the word ‘reputation’ for the word ‘brand’ in all contexts, but the meaning is essentially the same. As Jeff Bezos once said: “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”

  14. Excellent break down. Thanks

  15. shingle says:

    Thanks man. made my study easier

  16. Ayo says:

    I love this article,its simple,self explanatory and straight. Thanks for differentiating them.

  17. Monica Puri says:

    Thank you for your precise definitions on what a brand, a logo and an identity are.

  18. sweni says:

    Thank you for sharing this informative Article.really lots of peoples confuse in logo,identity & make it simple & clear.

  19. chaima says:

    perfect and simplified (y)

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