What is the Difference Between Brand and Brand Identity?
February 19, 2020
A short video defining the difference between your brand and your brand identity!
Brand VS Brand Identity – What’s the Difference and why it’s Important
Here on our knowledge hub, we frequently talk about branding. This is for good reason, since creating a brand is one of the best ways of differentiating yourself, getting more clients, and improving customer loyalty. We’d argue that it’s one of the most powerful aspects not just in marketing, but business as a whole. Whether you’re in a B2B or B2C industry is irrelevant – building a brand works wonders for your business.
However, there’s a difference between your brand and your brand identity. Although these terms are closely linked, they’re not the same thing, and this is something that throws a lot of people off without them knowing it. Understanding the difference between the two makes it easier for you to build a solid brand for your business.
In this article: Brand vs brand identity – What’s the difference and why is it important?
If while reading this article you feel like you could use some help with your branding, or creating a brand identity, feel free to reach out to us. We’re always happy to help and see how we could be of value to your company.
First, let’s take a look at what a brand is. Your brand, put simply, is the overarching message you wish to convey through your products and services. It’s the core message that your company stands for, in every way it is portrayed. It's also the way in which your company is perceived and experienced by others. This is mostly to do with your customers and clients but also holds true for employees and third-party service providers.
It’s an intangible asset that can add value to your business if it’s good and decrease value if it’s not so good. Even though two companies can provide the same services and function in the exact same way on paper, a company with a stronger brand can be worth considerably more, and commonly has a much higher revenue and higher profit margins.
Can You Control Your Brand?
Even though you can’t control how others perceive your brand for the full 100%, there is still a lot you can do in order to create a brand that will resonate with the right people. The key phrase here being “resonate with the right people”.
Notice we didn’t say “resonate with everyone?” – There’s a good reason for this!
When we as people stand for something or believe in something, this automatically means that certain people will relate to you more, while others take more of a disliking to you. This is a fact of life, as the mere act of forming an opinion creates both a push and a pull effect with certain people.
In business, it’s exactly the same. If your company wants to donate a portion of its profits to animal rights organisations, a lot of people will see you in a positive light, especially those that are particularly fond of animals or feel strongly about protecting animal rights. However, there is going to be a group of people that feel as though the money is better spent on human rights charities and an even smaller group of people that just hate animals all together.
As you can see, no matter what your opinion is, there’s going to be a group of people that push away from you, just like there will be a group of people that pull towards you. Branding is subjective, but this doesn’t mean you can’t take control!
Now, you might be thinking: “Easy! As long as we don’t take sides, we’ll appeal to everyone.”
This is where our next example comes in…
Magnets and Metal
As a company, or even as a person, there are two positions you can fill. You’re either a piece of metal, or you’re a magnet. Let’s say you don’t take sides as a company and decide to try and appeal to everyone. In this case, you’re a piece of metal.
While companies and people around you all have strong opinions, you’re flying from one magnet to the other trying to please everyone. It’s quite common to see people like this, but not so common to see companies like this, simply because they don’t succeed.
A magnet does not care which piece of metal it attracts, and it won’t attract one more than the other when made from the same material. However, magnets attract another magnet a lot stronger if the north and south pole meet.
Your other choice is to become a magnet. When you stand for something, you immediately attract a group of people who resonate with your brand. Have you ever tried pulling two magnets apart when their north and south poles are attached? This is customer loyalty, and the only way to achieve it is through solid branding. Two magnets can take more knocks before falling apart and can bear more weight.
However, when one magnet’s north pole gets near to another magnets north pole, they are repelled. This is normal, and it just means you are doing a good job since they’re not a good fit. A brand is just as effective at attracting the right kinds of people, as it is in repelling the wrong kinds of people. Both should be seen as the positive effects of a strong brand.
You also have all those pieces of metal flying around… These are everyone’s for the taking. See these as the people that are indifferent to the choice being made. Whereas a photographer wants to buy a specific brand of camera and will pay a large premium for it, your average joe just wants to be able to take a picture. In this case, the brand doesn’t play a role, and there’s no way of building any kind of loyalty. For these people, your product/service is a commodity, and, especially as an SME, this is a difficult market to win in due to tiny margins and very difficult clients.
What we mean to say here is that the benefits you get from building a solid brand that really stands for something are huge. Not only do you build a client base which is very loyal, but you also benefit from client’s that are happy to pay a premium for your products/services, as well as less difficult clients due to not being the right fit.
Take Rolex as an example. People pay a huge premium for their watches, but you don’t see every average Joe pop round to the local Rolex shop to see if they can score a good deal. People who can’t afford their watches know to stay away, and this saves Rolex time and money they can spend on the clients they want to serve.
How do you Create a Strong Brand?
We’ve done a lot of blog posts on branding, so we’ll list a few of them below for you to learn more about how to build a strong brand. The first place to start is your brand positioning, as you need to know who your brand should resonate with, and how.
Here are some of our best articles on branding:
- 5 Top Tips for Positioning Your Brand in 2020
- Why Brand Positioning is so Important in Digital Marketing
Once you know this, you can move on to creating your brand identity. What your brand identity is, and how it compares to your brand as a whole is what we’re going to get into next!
Your Brand Identity
Your brand identity is how your business communicates its brand through its visual elements and aesthetics. Things like your logo, company colours, and fonts are included in your brand identity, and should all work together in order to strengthen your brand, and how it resonates with its target audience.
Although a colour or font style is objective in the sense that you can give it a name, the “vibe” it gives off is very subjective. With branding being down to how your company is perceived and experienced, these underlying subjective aspects of your company visuals are the most important of all.
Do you think Harley Davidson would have built such a successful brand if their company colours were neon green and pink? Would they still appeal to tough motorbike enthusiasts, or would they appeal to a completely different group of people?
What do you think would happen with Harrods if they decided to develop a new brand identity based on tribal symbols?
Sure, these are all obvious examples, but they wouldn’t be the first company making an obvious mistake without knowing it.
Although your brand identity can only improve your brand by a small portion, it does have the ability to completely ruin your brand if it is done completely out of line with your core company message. It’s also one of the few things you have complete control over, and not something that’s sensitive to human error once established. This is one of the reasons why, although it can only take your brand so far, it’s deemed as one of the most important aspects of your branding.
Creating a Good Brand Identity
Although we won’t go too deep into this topic in this post, here are some important things to think about when developing your brand identity:
Understand your position in the market
When you start with your brand positioning, you set the foundation for creating a good brand identity. Without knowing what your core company message is, there’s no way of matching your brand identity to it.
It’s important to be very consistent in your branding. Not only is it important that your branding is consistent with your core company message, but it’s also important that it is consistent across your marketing channels. Use the same fonts and colours on all your social media accounts, your website, and in all communication with your clients.
Create a logo that represents your brand
Your logo is one of the first things that people see, and it’s something that’s often displayed on pretty much all communication. Making sure your logo suits your brand is vital to a good brand identity.
If you’ve just invented a new type of dispensable artificial grass that can be replaced and thrown straight into the garbage when dirty, it might not be a good idea to call it “rubbish grass”.
Sounds obvious? – Think again! Here are some great business names that people have come up with, which have actually gone on to be quite successful:
(The) Athletes foot – Store selling sports clothing and footwear
Jitters – A coffee shop chain
There are some more funny ones in this article by Business Insider which will really get you thinking!
There will be a post on creating a brand identity in the near future, so watch out for that!
Brand Identity vs Brand
As you can see throughout this blog post, your brand identity makes up a part of your branding. It helps to fortify your brand and helps you to resonate with your audience. However, they are not the same thing. Your brand is your companies overarching message and “character”, whereas your brand identity is the way this message/character is portrayed visually.
Although maintaining a poor brand identity can ruin your brand and the way it is perceived, having a solid brand identity doesn’t automatically mean you have a good brand. Understanding the difference between these two concepts can make your branding a whole lot more successful.
Why it’s Important
Although the terms are closely linked, understanding the differences is vital to building a good brand. Although your brand identity is an important aspect of your brand, a brand goes a lot deeper than this. Whereas your brand identity can give people an initial idea of “who” your company is, a solid brand will make people feel things and is much broader.
Your brand consists of memories, ideas, assumptions, referrals, opinions, and, in particular, stories.
This means that to create a strong brand, you also need to cover other aspects in a way that is in line with your core company message. Some of these things may include:
The way clients and customers are dealt with is one of the most important parts of your brand. Communication between you and your customers and clients has to be on-brand to ensure your customers have fond memories about working with you or buying your products.
Although somewhat linked to customer service, your written communication also encompasses things like your website content, social media posts, and helpful resources. If these things frustrate the people reading it, or they aren’t in line with your core company values, then it’s going to be very difficult building a brand.
Video, Audio and Images
Although a large portion of these things are closely linked to your brand identity, then things said in videos, or the content added to images are just as important in creating some consistency and improving your branding.
Pretty much everything, from your packaging to the clothes your employees wear can be considered as part of your branding. This doesn’t mean that every aspect has to be perfect, it just means that the more consistent, the better.
Understanding the difference between these two terms allows you to focus on both as different aspects of your company’s success. A lot of entrepreneurs think that just creating some consistency in the colours and logo they use is enough to maintain a solid brand. Once you understand the difference however, you start to see what else you could be doing to take your brand to the next level.
Review Your Business
Now you’ve gone through this article, it’s your turn!
How can you improve your branding? Are there any aspects you’ve forgotten? Are there any inconsistencies in your branding?
Take some time to reevaluate your brand and understand what you stand for as a company. What’s your mission and vision? Does your branding align with this? What about your brand identity?
By taking the time to re-evaluate, you can be sure you’re heading in the right direction!
There’s not a marketer in the world that would dismiss the value of creating a solid brand. It builds customer loyalty like nothing else, it helps you to attract the right kinds of customers, and it saves you money while also allowing you to earn more. Few aspects of a business can have such a positive impact.
Hopefully, you enjoyed reading this post, and if you have any questions about branding, or would like some help, feel free to get in touch with us. We’re always happy to brainstorm with you and think about how we can improve your business.
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