Why a logo redesign won’t fix a damaged food and drink brand

Building a brand that resonates with your target audience is never an easy thing (especially in the food and drink industry) and understanding what you need to do to get the most from your branding is incredibly tricky. But what if your brand doesn’t resonate? What if consumers snub you and your products? Can a logo redesign really fix a damaged brand?

Henry Barnett
Written by Henry Barnett
Creative Director

Unfortunately changing your brand requires a lot more work than simply updating your logo. But wait, isn’t a logo the same as a brand?

The short answer is no. It’s easy to confuse logo design with branding and to make matters worse many experts who claim to be able to help you with your branding are often designers whose main skill is in logo design. Logos and branding are similar but while a logo is part of your branding, your brand is a much bigger entity than the graphic used to represent you.

What exactly is a logo?

A logo (also commonly known as a brand mark, mark, logo, symbol, or brand icon) is an image or other visual representation that indicates what your company is all about. A good logo will be memorable and showcase the character of your company. It will encapsulate the visual theme of every other aspect of your brand and will be coloured, drawn, and worded in line with your business’s aspirations and goals. A good logo is a door to your business and serves as a visual indicator of what you do.  

For customers, your logo is a tangible way for them to identify your business and should be a way for your company to embed itself in people’s minds without explaining to them everything that you do. It will differentiate you from your competition and embody the essence of what you are all about.

Psychologically a logo is important to provide a visual shortcut in people's minds to allow them to sort, filter, and organise all their thoughts and memories of your company into one neat logo shaped box.

What exactly is a brand?

A brand is not just a logo. It is how you are perceived as a company. It is the feeling that customers get when they hear your company’s name. It is the tone you set in everything you do and everything you say. A company with a strong brand will instil positive feelings in their audience and will tempt them to engage with their products or services. A business with poor branding will do the exact opposite and leave customers with negative feelings and a reluctance to have any form of relationship with them.

Your logo is part of your branding but so are the colours you choose for your website, the font you use in your correspondence, the words you choose to describe what you do, the attitude you display to your customers, even the way you answer emails or your phone. Branding is everywhere in your business and in everything that you do.
So in short branding is a feeling you have associated with a company whereas a logo is a visual representation of that brand. To illustrate this let’s look at the following brands:

Waitrose & Iceland
Coca-Cola & Pepsi
McDonald’s & Burger King
Brewdog & Budweiser

Each of the examples above identify two brands that offer similar products or services, but will emote very different feelings. A brand transcends the logo and dictates how you feel about a company as well as the services they provide.

Which matters more – brand or logo?

While a logo is a small representation of a company, a brand is its very foundation. So, which is more important? You guessed it; the answer is brand. That’s not to diminish the importance of a good logo – both are crucial for the marketing of a business, but a brand speaks for itself and is more than a graphic with a few words.

Your brand will help form the opinions of the people you are trying to tempt to your services and will influence what they say about your products when you are not there with them in the room.

Both a compelling and unique logo and a strong brand are important if you want your business to flourish, but what people think and feel about your company (brand) will influence its success far more. Think of a brand as the sum total of all the impressions, views, experiences, and information a person has about your company, products, or services. It’s the emotional feelings they experience when they think about you and it’s the perceived benefits they’ve attributed to what you do and what you can provide.

Think about it, you can probably imagine quite a few companies whose logo you recognise and may even admire for its creative qualities, but you have no respect for due to your opinion of what they do or a previous customer experience you had with them. On the other hand, you may do business with some companies who you admire for the quality of their products or services, but you have no care for or even dislike their logo.
Because a logo is a more tangible part of their business, many companies believe updating their logo will be a quick fix for changing how their brand is perceived by their customers. In these instances, updating the logo is often a waste of time and money because it doesn’t change a customer's perception. Afterall, putting feathers up your bum doesn't make you a chicken!

That’s not to say that changing a logo is a waste of time all the time. Some companies are in desperate need of a logo that better reflects how their brand has evolved. But as we mentioned previously, a logo update on its own is pointless unless you address all the other issues associated with your brand.

So, a logo is unimportant then?

Not necessarily.

Your logo is part of your brand and as such still holds a lot of importance in how you are seen by customers. Your logo is often the first thing that pops into a customer’s head when they think of your company. As such it not only needs to be memorable but be evocative of what you do (think of McDonalds’ golden arches).
Getting the right logo is incredibly tricky and companies will invest vast sums of money to agencies to ensure they get an image that resonates with their customers. At the end of the day, a logo needs to be simple and eye-catching enough for a customer to remember it but also unique enough for them to attribute it to your brand.

Can a logo be negative?

While a logo might not resonate with customers, they are seldom seen as having a hugely negative impact on a company. Yes, customers may feel ambivalent to your logo or even feel hilarity at its design, but your logo will seldom put a customer off from purchasing your products or services.

Can a brand be negative?

Of course. A brand, if not managed correctly, can develop negative connotations with the buying public and there are quite a few examples in the past where a company has been boycotted because of what their brand is saying to the public.

If we jump back to the 1970s, food and drink supplier Tesco had such a poor brand image that a series of takeover attempts by other more popular companies fell through because they feared being tarnished by such an unpopular company at the time.

Fast-forward to the 1990s, and Skoda struggled hard to find traction in the British car industry despite being taken over by the hugely popular Volkswagen brand because customers still saw their cars as cheap and unreliable despite years of major improvements.

More recently, BP went through a similar negative brand experience after the Deepwater Horizon disaster and the environmental tragedy that followed. In customers eyes, the BP brand was synonymous with polluting the sea and killing wildlife, despite all the attempts the company made to rectify the situation.
All these negative brands managed to turn things around (to various degrees of success) but it took years of effort and work to change public perception.

How can I avoid getting a negative brand?

Developing a good brand is never easy and one false move can destroy all the good work you’ve done very easily. But how do you stop your business from developing a negative brand image and how can you ensure that your brand is perceived how you want to be by customers? Here are a few tips to help you out:Make Sure That You Know Your Brand
How are you going to get across the essence of your business and your brand if you don’t understand it yourself? Think about what makes your brand unique to your customers. Why do your customers buy from you? Do this as early in your businesses lifespan as making changes later can be far more difficult.

Walk a mile in your customers shoes. Invest time to understand your customers worldview and then define a coherent story that will resonate with them. Download our free eBook to find out more. If you invest the time to follow our process, and can answer the questions above, you should understand a little more about how you want your brand to be viewed and, more importantly, how you can position your brand currently to avoid negative reactions from customers.

And finally…

So, whilst a logo redesign can’t necessarily fix a damaged brand, logos and brands exist together and function hand in hand with each other. Yes, a logo is important to a company, but your brand is your company. A good way of thinking about it is that your logo is the tip of your brand iceberg. It’s the part above the waterline and what your customers see first. But, as with icebergs, the most interesting and important part of your company is what goes on underneath the waves and this is where the power of your brand shines.