Why your brand isn't your logo

What is a brand?

This might seem like a simple question, but it’s surprisingly tricky to answer.

Here’s how Google defines a brand:

A type of product manufactured by a particular company under a particular name, or an identifying mark burned on livestock

For me, this definition completely misses the mark.

Your products and your logo are parts of your brand, not the whole story.

This is worth repeating because I see so many smart business owners getting hung up on their logos:

Your brand is not your logo.

In The Dictionary of Brand, Marty Neumeier explains a brand as:

“A person’s perception of a product, service, experience, or organization.”

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By this definition, your brand isn’t your logo, your products, or your big “why.”

Your brand is all about the experiences and feelings your business creates for other people.

Imagine a sculptor chipping away at a block of marble.

Each stroke makes a mark. Over time all these marks add up to create a 3D-sculpture that evokes feelings and experiences. The same goes for your brand.

Here are the 10 pillars of a stand-out brand:

  • Who you are — your personality, skills, quirks, and unique way of being in the world

  • What you do — your products, services, and offering

  • How you do it — your process

  • Why you do it — your mission and purpose

  • Who you do it for — your customers and audience

  • Your message — the words you say, write, and share

  • Your visuals — photos, colors, fonts, graphics, and logo

  • Your website — your online home, marketing Swiss Army Knife, and best sales tool

  • Your marketing — blog posts, social media, emails, podcasts… all the ways you build relationships and serve your audience on a regular basis.

  • What others say about you — your reputation

As you can see, your logo is just one small part of this!

Your 10 pillars are working together to create your brand 24/7, whether you’ve crafted them intentionally or not.

Your 10 pillars are working together to create your brand 24/7, whether you’ve crafted them intentionally or not.

The best brands in the world know this and deliberately build their pillars to work together as a seamless whole.

Other brands only pay attention to 1 or 2 pillars, and as a result, the whole structure feels wobbly and disjointed.

Three examples of stand-out brands

There are so many brands I love who are doing a great job with their 10 pillars, but below you'll find three that I use on a regular basis.

Each of these companies connects with its audience on a deep level, evokes emotions, and goes above and beyond to create memorable experiences.

Note: I haven’t included any personal brands on this list, because I love looking outside of my industry for inspiration!

01. The Wing

The Wing is an all-women’s co-working space that’s redefining what community looks like in New York, DC, San Fran, and beyond. Their brand experience is communicated seamlessly through the design of their physical locations, website, and social media accounts. Their tone is a mix of politics and pop culture delivered with a sharp, witty twist — in other words, just how their ideal customers talk.

02. Glossier

Glossier is a direct-to-consumer beauty company that changed their industry with a mix of luxurious-yet-accessible products, an inclusive vibe, and dynamite social media marketing. Unlike other high-end beauty brands that are based on making women feel “less-than,” Glossier is all about making their customers feel great, and engaging them on the platforms they’re already using.

03. ConvertKit

Have you ever been in a room full of 350 entrepreneurs cheering for email marketing software?

I have, at ConvertKit’s annual Craft + Commerce Conference.

Who gets that excited about software?! ConvertKit’s customers do, because the company has crafted a compelling mission and message that goes far beyond software that helps you send emails.

The common thread is that these brands don’t just have clients and customers… they have raving, loyal fans.


Because wherever they show up, these brands are leveraging their 10 pillars to create outstanding experiences and evoke emotion.

Ready to create your own stand-out brand?

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