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It’s not just a logo. It’s a system.

So, you have a business, and you need a logo. Maybe you’ve got one already, but you don’t love it. Or maybe you’ve got nothing. Either way, I want to talk about logos: and why you need to think beyond just the logo when you’re refreshing your brand.

One thing that marketing folks talk a lot about is a Visual Identity System: VIS for short. This might sound like a load of design crap, intended to pile on deliverables (and cost!) to your scope, but it’s really not. VIS refers to everything visual that makes up your brand: your logo, yes, but also the fonts, colors, textures, iconography, images, that go along with it.

And the key thing to remember here: if you create a logo, you have to make sure it works with the rest of your visual system.

An easy example: Dunkin’ Donuts. Here’s their current logo:

So far, this gives us colors (orange and pink), and a font. We might look at this and say, “OK, our job is done!” But Dunkin’ needs to use visuals to communicate a lot more than just their name, and these elements of their Visual Identity System all stem from their logo.

Just looking at their website, we can see they have:


We can see how the color scheme jumps from the logo to these icons; and how they all share the super rounded edges and shapes that are in the logo.

Product artwork:

Look closely at the background on this packaging and you’ll see it’s the “D” from the logo. There are some new, brown-orange colors introduced here, but everything still plays off the original logo.

Gift card artwork:

The “America Runs” art, where it can be, is rounded just like the logo- especially true with the running person. Even the outline of America is rounded as much as possible to reflect that full, fun, rounded look that you see in their logo.

Another example of stretching VIS from a logo: McDonald’s. In case you need a refresher, here’s their logo:

At first, doesn’t seem like much to work with. The Golden Arch, and red and yellow. But then we start to see other elements:

Happy Meal “Smile”

That simple smile reflects the arch in the original logo. Same thing with the handles on the packaging.

In-Store Signs:

Both of these extend that “M” design to be a fry dipped in ketchup alongside a WiFi signal, and a delivery road.

And, perhaps my favorite example ever of a logo doing more than a logo: this award-winning out-of-home campaign.

Think you need help developing a Visual Identity System? Get in touch with us here.


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