Brand Mark vs. Logo – What’s the Difference?

Branding Ideas Design Identitiy Marketing Concept

You have a beautiful logo that’s distinctive, eye-catching and visually appealing. It looks great and supports your brand, so you’re set. That’s a common assumption among business leaders, but it’s not quite correct. During the design process for your company logo, you should also create a brand mark.

The brand mark can be a part of the logo or it can be a separate design to be used at the appropriate times. Most frequently, you’ll want to use the mark in lieu of your full logo when you need something very tiny, so the mark should be clear and attractive at sizes as small as 16px by 16px.

Why is it important to have a brand mark? As with so much in modern life, you can thank the internet and social media. In 1999 as the internet was gaining mass appeal, savvy brands first began utilizing favicons (those tiny images you see on a website tab next to the name of the site). Having a favicon on the tab helps users see and remember what that tab represents, thus encouraging them to click on it again and complete a purchase or view additional content.

Since this placement requires images that are clear even when tiny, brands with logos that didn’t quite fit the bill (or the tab) had to come up with something different. The idea took root and persists even now as a way to support branding and boost internet sales. Today, the brand mark is a basic marketing tool that every company should count among its graphic assets.

If a mark that can stand alone as a distinctive reminder of your branding is part of your logo, then the hard work is already done. For example, think of popular brands such as Chanel and Under Armour. When these logos appear in tight spaces, the words are dropped and the interlocking c’s (for Chanel) or UA stand alone.

Brands with text-only logos have to take an additional step by designing a mark to add to their logo stack. Kohl’s, for example, uses a multicolored box while eBay relies on the familiar shopping bag displaying the eBay colors. The mark doesn’t have to be a full graphic though. Some brands opt for a stylized single letter or letters, such as the instantly recognizable Pinterest P, Google G and National Public Radio’s NPR in colored boxes.

Use as a favicon isn’t the only application for your brand mark. Some brands – especially those with intricate or text-heavy logos – prefer to use brand marks for social media profile images as well. Although the social media profile area isn’t as small as the space allotted for favicons, it is still small enough for a mark to be more viewer-friendly than a virtually unreadable text logo. Print advertisements, business cards, branded giveaway items and other contexts can also be more appealing with a well-designed brand mark in place of a full logo.

These marks make your brand more recognizable and, in some cases, may even wind up being more widely used and instantly recognized than the logo. Think of Nike or Apple, for example, and you’re almost certain to visualize the swoosh or apple image that represent the two brands, respectively. While your brand mark probably won’t become as iconic as Nike’s swoosh, you never know. It could happen! But even if it doesn’t, creating an attractive brand mark to use when the situation calls for it is still a worthwhile and necessary endeavor.

Written by Kyle Henn, Marketing Manager