Think Brand First, Logo Last

by James Arrington


When branding or rebranding your company, traditional sense would tell you to start by designing a great logo and then working from there to create a brilliant looking brand. This is WRONG! Experience has taught me otherwise so now, whenever serving my clients’ creative needs, the logo always comes dead last. Here’s why.

Telling Your Story

When it comes to promoting your business products or services you essentially are trying to communicate a story to your buyers. This story is told with pictures, headlines, paragraphs of text, calls to action, icons, textures, sounds, and other design elements that all work together to create a feel and communicate more than just what you do. Consider one of the industry’s best: Nike has become a household name, NOT however, because of a revolutionary logo. In fact, the logo is quite simple. Their branding however, always included stellar images of the world’s best athletes doing what they did best. Those pictures of athletes commanded attention and conveyed their story quickly and powerfully. And of course, they were always adorned with a little mark somewhere that told us who was telling the story. And that is the proper role of a logo.

Your Business Signature

The logo shouldn’t tell us the story of who you are and what you offer. It simply tells us who is telling us the story. This is why it often finds itself at the end of a commercial, or tucked down at the bottom of an ad. It is far less important than the story itself.

A Terrible Way to Brand

As a Creative Professional I have found that starting with the logo is a terrible way to brand. Because if it’s the first of many brand elements the client will always want it to tell the whole story of who the company is and what they do. This means that the logo will end up looking more like a comic strip than a nice clean signature for your business. Do a quick google search for some of the nations most powerful and successful companies and you will find that the logos aren’t always that impressive. Their brands are though.


The most successful brands that I have designed for have allowed me to create the stories of their brand with images, illustration, text, colors, textures, icons, and other design elements. These elements work together into an ad to say everything the client was hoping to communicate. After this ad is created, I can place an otherwise simple, yet elegant logo within that branded landscape… something I call a brandscape and VOILA! We have a winner.

When branding your business start by creating a brandscape that communicates everything you need to say (consider it like an ad) then create your logo to fit neatly with the other elements of the brandscape and you will find that you have saved yourself a tremendous headache in the branding process.

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