Hiding Behind a Logo

Updated: Jun 27, 2020

This article in the Metro caught our eye because it flags up the difference between a logo and branding. It reveals how Richard Branson's Virgin have received another NHS contract. Another one? Isn't the NHS supposed to be publicly funded?

‘There are many other private health companies also operating as ‘the NHS’, behind the name. The change from a publicly provided NHS to a privately provided one is being done piece by piece and the extent of the change is being hidden by keeping the logo.

In this case the trusted NHS logo can be used as a catch all shorthand for a publicly funded system that is in fact nothing of the sort. In fact Virgin holds over 330 contracts across the country that all operate under the NHS logo.

We often use the analogy that where a brand is your whole business persona, the logo represents the clothes you wear. So what is your usual go-to outfit? Shirt and tie, jeans and a hoodie? What outfit best represents who you are as a person? If you dress in lycra but never see a gym, what message does that give out?

Unless you change your logo as often as your knickers, a logo should represent the actions and behaviours of a brand as closely as possible if you want to create trust and confidence in your customers. If you want an authentic experience and brand.

The logo is a visual shorthand that a customer 'gets'. As designers we know what colours and fonts to use to make this 'getting' quick and clear. But as with clothes it is'nt the only thing that demonstrates your brand. It is the actions of your brand that tell the whole story.

As a branding agency it would be remiss of us to start designing your logo without having a good understanding of what your brand is, and so we encourage our clients to think beyond logo design when they start to develop their brand. It is a mistake a lot of SME's make, jumping straight into logo design and thinking that makes the brand. They risk creating a short lived trend based logo that doesn't reflect their purpose or values, isn't future proof and can at worst confuse their customers and turn them off, at best waste money with a redesign 18 months down the line.

We always recommend laying strong strategic foundations to avoid this pitfall. We use a number of steps to help you define your purpose, values and brand promise, creating the blueprint for your brand's behaviour patterns. We then use this blueprint to create a logo that is reflective of the brand, rather than one that looks good but means nothing.

With a changing market place you need to reevaluate your brand strategy and see how that reflects in your final logo design. Clearly the NHS are undergoing seismic changes, and this hasn't been expressed through their branding as yet, which is why we feel so cheated why stories like this hit the press. Perhaps over the next 5 years if and when privatisation becomes more transparent, the branding will start to reflect that and we will feel more trust in this particular system.

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