Beyond the Logo: Building a Brand Identity through Visual Branding
By David Malecki
The effect of a simple logo can not be understated in today’s highly competitive and saturated marketplace. A logo not only unifies the entire brand and everything it represents but also breathes life into a brand, setting it apart from its competitors. Logos also represent the growth and evolution of a brand and its identity throughout its years of existence. The iconic Nike swoosh or the distinctive Janus Motorcycles logo are both deeply rooted in Western culture and mythology. These logos evoke recognition and convey a sense of aspiration and adventure.
Janus Motorcycles, for example, offers a double-faced J, forming an M. In Roman Mythology, Janus was the god of doors and gates, serving as the middle ground between two pathways. For the brand, vintage-style motorcycles with modern performance and features serve as the primary offering of the motorcycle company.
At REML, our logo represents our motto of “Awakening Dreams.” The logo is based on a Carpathian symbol of renewal and creativity. It has a gold center that relates to alchemy--the transformative processes through which our work is done. The outer circle represents a holistic approach and the cyclical nature of progress. REML is tirelessly dedicated to turning dreams into reality, and our logo encapsulates that. A simple yet powerful image that tells the story of what we do.
Over time, many logos change and evolve, yet some remain nearly the same for a century or more. Consider long standing brands like Coca-Cola who have remained true to their distinctive logo design, just as their product offerings have... with the exception of the launch of “New Coke.”
In 1985, to compete with Pepsi, a reformulation called “New Coke” was launched by Coca-Cola, which incredibly upset masses of their customers. This brought about a variety of challenges and setbacks to Coca-Cola's brand. During this time, Coca-Cola's logo differed greatly from the original. The customers’ reactions proved the importance of maintaining a consistent brand identity even in difficult times. As seen in the images below, the original logo was brought back in 1987 along with the return to the original Coca-Cola soft drink that their customers had been loyal to for nearly a century.
While maintaining a strong sense of consistency of identity through a natural evolution, a return to previous form is an emerging trend among brands who want their logo associated with a former time. For example, Burger King and Pepsi both opted for their current logos to be nearly identical to the style of their logos from the 1970’s, a time looked upon fondly by many long-established brands. Creative director and designer of the rebrand of Burger King, Lisa Smith, remarked on the change, saying, “The new logo pays homage to the brand's heritage with a refined design that's confident, simple and fun."
While logos are a unifying point of identification for an institution, company or product as a visual expression of what the brand stands for as an idea, they also can tell the public and consumers a visual story about the brand’s mission or values.
At REML, our goal is to turn an organization’s dreams into reality, and our logo represents the culmination of this mission. In a sense, every brand seeks to awaken the dreams of its customers or constituents. The brand’s logo as a symbol often serves as the touchpoint where a consumer is first introduced to a brand, and it makes a deep impression on whether or not if they feel the brand can meet their needs, satisfy their cravings, reach their goals, or realize their dreams. Indeed many people wear their favorite brand logos as expressions of their own identity, not just the identity of the company or product.
David Malecki is a graduate student at West Virginia University, studying integrated marketing communications, where he completed his undergraduate coursework in advertising and public relations. As a multimedia storyteller with an interest in creative advertising, David has utilized photo and video production in a wide array of his work, including his role as the Creative Direction, Multimedia and Advertising Intern at REML.