There are different types of trademarks used to identify a business entity. A trademark can be a symbol, icon, monogram, badge, sign or other graphic device. Shell uses a symbol, whereas LG uses a monogram, for example. Logos have been around in one form or another for several thousands of years.
The Ancient Egyptians branded domestic animals with hieroglyphs to signify their owners. The Romans and Greeks marked their pottery with identifying marks to identify their hand. Nobility used heraldic marks to signify their armies on the battlefield called coats of arms.
Today, businesses use trademarks to help customers identify who they are, and to signal to an audience the origin and quality of their goods.
The connection between brand and a logo: artifacts
If a brand is the relationship, then a logo is a projection of that relationship. In other words, a logo works to point a customer back to the larger organization on the whole and reflect the relationship that organization has with their audience. Although logos are common, they are just a single expression an organization can use towards this effort.
Any cue (sight, sound, touch, taste or smell) used to project the relationship between you and your audience is called a brand artifact. Artifacts come in all different forms. For instance, a logo is a visual brand artifact of the relationship between the organization and an audience. Just like the aroma of roasting coffee is an olfactic brand artifact of Starbucks, or a furry pink mustache is a tactile brand artifact of Lyft.
In an overflowing market cramped full of competing value propositions, everyone is trying to make a mark. The organizations that win are those who make their mark by creating shared value with their audience, not by trying to stand out with just a logo alone. A logo must be connected to something much bigger than itself – the relationship.
Nike made the swoosh, the swoosh didn’t make Nike.
Identity = consistent, engaging artifacts
The goal is to find artifacts that tell your story and engage people with who you are in a familiar and meaningful way. That means ensuring every time your artifacts show up, they are consistent in their appearance, use, size, scope, color, feel, etc. Consistency allows your audience to build a memory structure around who you are and what value you have to offer. This memory structure becomes the identity of your organization.
On the continuum from cave paintings to social media updates, the collective aggregate of your artifacts can create an infinite sensory palette of expression which can instantaneously produce a recognizable and unique identity for your organization.
No matter a company’s size, artifacts are an important piece of telling your story. Work to discover the value your artifacts are creating. Once the value your artifacts are creating is well understood, deliver them in a consistent and meaningful way to build a compelling identity.