Logo Vs Branding: Semantics Or So Much More?

By Lauren Kenney


Hands up if you know the name of the Greek goddess of victory. 


Does it help if we tell you she had wings and flew above the ancient battlefields giving glory to the victors? 


Okay, here’s another one – do you know the stories about the twin-tailed sea sirens that lured sailors to their death? Nope? Not an ancient Greek mythology buff?


Would it help if we said that you see the symbol of the goddess of victory in sports shops, athleisure wear, television? You’d recognise it as the “swoosh” checkmark and say, “Oh yeah; Nike”.  Nike - the name of the Greek goddess of victory.


And the fearful sea sirens? Well, I’m pretty sure that coffee will not lure you to your death -  it actually does an excellent job of bringing us back to life most days and you certainly know one of those sirens as the centre of the easily recognised Starbucks logo.  Starbucks’ logo sneakily hints that their coffee is soooo good that they’ll lure you in – visiting them becomes a habit, an almost-obsession! 


Blog Post - Jackson for NikeImage courtesy of Diesel Films Inc.


The recognizability and emotions that we associate with these brands did not happen by accident.


Logos become an integral part of the companies they represent, so much so, that it’s easy for the average person to overlook the holistic marketing communication that Starbucks, or Nike, or Maserati convey. A logo is just a small, but integral part of the overall message that the company wishes to promote; the visual face of the company, so to speak. It’s easy to confuse a logo with branding, since the logo is synonymous with the impact the company has. Branding, however, encompasses all or any communication from a company to the public that drives recognition and trust and that sets one company apart from others that might sell a similar product. Branding provides meaning for the logo. This is done intentionally through

  • choice of colours, 
  • imagery, 
  • font style, 
  • clear language, 
  • spokespeople, 
  • taglines, and 
  • tone. 


Nike's mid-1980s “Just Do It” campaign became so popular with its message of personal intensity that everyone, including children today (almost 30 years later), still know the expression.  Similarly, if Tom Hanks is promoting your company or a product or service you sell, you don’t even have to see the company logo to buy in; you know that you’ve got honesty, warmth, humour, competence, and integrity coming at you just from the fact that it’s Tom Hanks delivering the message. That’s branding. 


And why is branding so important? Because it drives recognition and trust and makes you want to interact with the company. Branding creates loyalty and loyalty creates a sense of belonging. When you see someone else wearing a specific logo on their clothing that you also wear or driving a car with the same logo as the one you drive, you feel an empathic ‘belonging’, you're part of a club.  That sense of belonging immediately imbues you with a sense of trust, of subconsciously ‘knowing’ that person. 


Blog Post - Colin Kaepernick for NikeImage courtesy of Getty/Justin Sullivan


Branding not only says who and what you are, it provides meaning, elicits a response, and builds connections, or relationships. It’s important, therefore, that you pay special attention to the branding of your business. Having a logo is not enough – it’s just the start.  You become part of the brand and attract others who believe in what your brand promotes, even when that branding may not always necessarily exemplify exactly what you feel. If the branding is successful, we believe that the owners are just like their brand. Branding can become so powerful that when we witness a company owner, executive, or leader doing anything that defies or defiles their message, we stand for the hope and honesty that the brand provides and turn against the individual. Even when a company briefly goes to extreme lengths for a campaign and annoys, frustrates, or divides its audience, gradually over time, the audience returns, just as trusting. Take a look at Nike and their Colin Kaepernick campaign. People burned shoes and threatened boycotts, yet a mere year later, the company claimed an almost $6 billion brand value increase and over 30% in sales!


We started with questions, so let’s end that way. 


You’d never guess who remains a strong top 10 contender in the market today for logo and branding? 


Let’s give a hint. 


The company’s logo is red, with a flowing script font that’s over 125 years old. Any guesses? Its branding relates to relevance, nostalgia, consistency, and bringing people of all ages together throughout the world.


Think you know? Leave us feedback and give us your answers!