A company’s logo is becoming less and less important. A brand, however, is what companies should invest in if they want to truly connect with customers.

First, a little clarification. A logo is a graphic element with a name created to identify a company or product. Brands represent your organization’s personality. And the feelings and experiences people have when they interact with it. A brand should be your organization’s promise. Brands are dynamic. While a logo and a brand are kindred spirits, they are very different.

Brands work from the inside out. Your employees are on the front lines of branding for your business. And not just your marketing department! Poindexter in Accounting’s communications will be associated with the perception people have of your brand. Employees can help with developing a belief system around your brand.  Your brand should be the manifestation of your organization’s purpose. It is an identity system that lives and breathes through your staff’s work and their interactions with the public.

So, if brand is critical to how customers and prospects perceive your company, why do we litter logos all over everything? And specifically, on promotional products, SWAG, branded merchandise…

Why don’t we make logos subordinate to great design and messaging that better represents the meaning behind our brands? Let’s design beyond the logo!

While I respect the need for consistent logo impressions, most logos have a disconnect with meaning. Logos that are well-designed and are time-tested might evoke a memory or emotion, but most organizations don’t have that luxury. I also concede that employees – because they have a responsibility (and the privilege) to be stewards of their organizations –should be champions and defenders of the company logo.

Yet, let’s look at some examples of thoughtful design and messaging that trump a standalone logo:

Example #1

Would you prefer the mug with just a Starbucks logo or a mug with a beautiful design with the Starbucks logo in a more discreet location?


Example #2

The iconic Converse brand is confident enough in its timeless style that it can actually eliminate its logo and do this with messaging associated with its brand:


Example #3

Would you prefer the big Brand Fuel logo on a mug or an inspirational message with small website featured?


Example #4

What about aligning your brand with a cause and make the cause the primary asset and focus?

It’s important to note that globally, corporate social responsibility (CSR) drives 40% of organizational reputation. Below are a few good examples of how to connect your brand with goodwill by way of supporting a cause.

Dunkin’ Donuts sold t-shirts with proceeds helping rebuild Long Island after Hurricane Sandy.


Absolut Vodka hosted “aMBUSH Art for Charity,” debuting works from local artists in Sydney, Australia who designed distinctive bottles with proceeds from sales to benefit artist’s favorite charities.


Speedo worked with five inspiring artists and five Olympic swimmers to create a limited-edition swim cap for five worthy causes. Check out #ArtoftheCap.


Great designs and impactful messages are better positioned than barren, oft-boring logos. Logos are rarely instagrammable. Amazing designs that emotionally connect with us are. Great design is a gateway to a relationship. Brand experiences can evoke action. And “action” is embedded in the word “attraction.” So, attract consumers with great design! More on the instagrammable brand HERE.

If your role is to purchase branded gear for your customers and prospects, please take note. Impactful design and messaging might very well be the future of brand merchandising strategy (until something new comes along).  Great design versus massive logos on stuff is what people want. That, plus high quality, sustainable and functional gear.  

My advice to you – the next time you are considering adding your “lovable” logo large, front and center, consider letting it be an accessory to impactful, on-brand design or messaging that welcomes and emotionally moves your audience.

If they are so-inspired to share on Instagram, you win. More of that, please.

Danny Rosin
Co-President, Brand Fuel