Your Brand is NOT your Logo — and Harry Potter


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Many of our clients come to us and ask us to redesign their logo. We love brand identity and logo design and greatly enjoy these assignments. However, we sometimes get into challenging situations because what some clients really want is a New Brand, not just a new, refreshed logo. It is hard to convey to a client that while a fresh new look to the brand can add some energy, revitalizing a brand is a much more significant undertaking.

Importantly, your logo is not your brand! A logo is an important visual symbol of your brand and a great brand mark can enhance your brand significantly. However, a logo no more defines a brand than a cover defines a book. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our business that we lose perspective on key principles we know well. Branding can be like this. Let’s explore the idea of branding in a different context by using the metaphor of books and literature. We all know the saying that “you can’t judge a book by it’s cover”, yet this is precisely what we are saying if we think a new logo will change our brand.

Harry Potter is a wonderfully successful book that grew into the most successful book series of all time selling over 400 million copies for the 7 main books. Harry Potter didn’t stop there. It was adapted into a series of incredibly successful movies that are #2 all time behind only the James Bond series. Now, the Harry Potter has line extended into a theme park that recently opened at Universal Studios. We may not think of it as such, but Harry Potter is a brand; and a hugely successful one at that.

If we asked people to tell us about Harry Potter and why it has been so successful, few people, if any, would say it was because of a the great design on the cover of the book or movie. While many people can recall the book cover, and it evokes important imagery about the book, the characters and the story, the cover itself does not define the experience of Harry Potter. That is to say the cover is not the brand of Harry Potter.

It is the story that defines Harry Potter. The characters, the theme, the plot, and the writing style that make Harry Potter what it is. The graphic design of the book covers and posters are an important visual element in bringing the story to life for people, but they wouldn’t matter at all if the story was not interesting and riveting.

And so it is with branding and logos. Your brand needs to tell a compelling story to your customers and to the market. If your brand doesn’t stand for anything, if it’s not relevant or unique or compelling, then a new logo can only do so much. A great design can draw new attention to your brand and make people take another look at you, but it can’t turn around the business unless the fundamentals of the brand are on the right path.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Rick Thompson
Rick's passion for building brands and innovative marketing programs makes him an ideal partner for companies that want to build a strong brand that engages customers and drives revenue and profit. His experience in owning the P&L as a line manager help him appreciate that the goal of all branding and marketing is to drive the bottom line.


  1. Rick, terrific post. I see marketers get so wrapped up in the “fun” parts of building a brand. Whether we’re designing their website or their logo, it’s very easy to focus SOLELY on the “fun” visual elements, rather than spend the hard work of talking to customers, defining their competitive position, synthesizing their value proposition and settling on some solid messaging.


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