A brand is what you do over time.
A logo is an image you associate an expectation with.
A good brand meets expectations with predictable consistency and a predictable result.
Coca-Cola makes a beverage that tastes nearly identical no matter where you are in the world. Coke sells soda. They also sell a consistent and familiar feeling. That’s what makes them a "good" brand.
They have a logo that's virtually unchanged since its inception over 130 years ago.
They have a product that’s changed very little.
They offer similar products around the globe.
Big companies don’t need to have a good logo to build a strong brand. They have already found success as a brand by meeting your expectations consistently over time.
Visa processes your payments whether you understand that process or not.
Walmart is synonymous with low prices and strives for that over everything. Even if it comes at the expense of their own workforce. Their brand is "Always low prices." People have experienced this often enough for the idea to be synonymous with the brand.
Apple makes great products. Their logo is fine. What makes Apple a great brand is that they’ve made multiple generational defining products in the last 44 years. They’ve made elegant and consistently functional products for our everyday lives.
Other companies make phones and other products with an “i” before the name. But when Apple makes it—It means something.
iPod. iMac. iPhone.
The logo doesn't even really matter here.
It becomes an identifiable reminder of the experience they've created.
A bad logo preemptively sells you an expectation for an entity.
A good logo preemptively sells you an expectation for an entity.
The difference is in whether the logo matches the expectation.
A good logo with a bad experience can be worse than a bad logo with a bad result. That's because you've worked to create an expectation that you can't deliver on; the result beyond your means.
Your good logo can be a mirrage covering a bad service, product, or offering.
See: Juicero, Theranos, Coolest Cooler, etc.
A logo simply creates a face for your name.
The brand must ultimately do the work of meeting expectations over time to forge any meaning.
We plant a tree and expect it to grow. When it grows, we anticipate it bearing fruit. We expect these fruit to become peaches. Those peaches should taste good; sweet, juicy, tender flesh, fuzzy skin.
When these peaches do taste good, the tree is good. We love what this specific tree does. We'll come back this tree. Again, and again. And again.
Special Thanks to Christine Sirois for lovely edits and feedback.