Some would believe that the logo is the brand, hence there is no difference. But the fact of the matter is the logo is merely the face of the brand and the brand is essentially a company’s reputation – it’s perception in the marketplace.
Creating a brand by definition is somewhat misleading as every company has a brand whether they want one or not. What they can do to some extent is develop and guide their brand. To do this they must first understand where their brand sits at this point in time. Knowing this allows the company to determine whether they like their brand or whether they’d like to move it in another direction. They could take any number of initiatives to achieve this, the most effective i believe is a differentiation strategy. By analyzing the competition, choose a road that separates you and positions you as a leader in your category.
Creating a logo is traditionally designed in a vacuum with no consideration to a differentiation strategy, but more to the tastes and whims of a graphic designer, who really doesn’t understand your brand or at the very least has a passing gut feel. Since the logo is the face of the brand it must accurately reflect the brand values and personality if it is to resonate with it’s audience. To view the brand logo an accurate perception of your brand should take place. How many logos do you see in a day that bear no relation to the company they represent? This is the disconnect that a poorly developed brand logo suffers from.
Examples might be highly technical logos for companies where traditional service are brand values not technical innovation. The only reason for this design direction is the designer and clients desire to look “modern and high tech.” The color palette is based entirely on this year color trends. The result is a disconnect. The logo must reflect the brand. If a company wishes simply to design a cool logo then they are ignoring what it’s job is to do. It should never stand alone from your brand.