An ocean has many different types of fish, but it also has a lot of the same kind of fish. As business owners and marketers, we can liken our services and products to those similar fish.
Almost every product/service has to fight in a sea of competition. And when it comes to a consumer choosing an option from within that sea, branding is often the deciding factor.
For example, if you are in need of a toaster oven and there are 3 similarly priced options, you’re going to go with the brand you know and perceive to be good.
Too many small businesses neglect their branding without realizing how incredibly important it is to the success of their business. And many marketers don’t even really understand the difference between branding and identity.
Let’s clear that up for you…
What’s the Difference between Branding and Identity?
A lot of terms are tossed around in the marketing world, such as brand, branding, brand identity, brand positioning, brand promise, brand essence, brand personality, brand voice, brand values, etc., etc., etc.
While all of those terms might have the word brand in common, they all have separate meanings. And we’ve noticed that most of the confusion comes in when looking at the difference between branding and identity.
What Is Branding?
Your branding refers to the actions you take to build your brand. It’s the methods you use, the messaging you create, and the things you do to influence what people think about your company.
When your branding is done right, it will elicit an emotional response to your company that is in line with how you want to be perceived.
A brand is the intangible assets of a business. It’s not something that can be designed; it has to be built. Branding is the process of building the brand.
Branding Is Perception
Branding includes everything the business has to offer, such as what you stand for, what sets you apart, and what you’re all about.
But it’s more about how your business is perceived than what you say your business is about. People will get a gut feeling about your company, and your branding is what makes that possible.
You can tell this is true because of the fact that people actually fall in love with brands.
Take Apple, for example. Consumers line up to buy their products without even bothering to compare them to other brands. Not only that, but they love to flaunt the Apple logo like they’re part of a fan club.
Branding Is a Promise
Other than perception, branding also presents a promise of what you’ll deliver. You build confidence in your brand by continually delivering on that promise.
Make no mistake—the way people perceive your brand and the promise your brand makes will affect the success of your company, so your branding needs to be solid!
What Is Brand Identity?
While a brand is the intangible assets of a company, brand identity is the tangible visual assets. It’s the way you visually portray your branding. It’s what people see when they come in contact with your brand, no matter the platform, touchpoint, or channel.
Your brand identity is what designers create for your business, including…
- Website design
- Business cards
- Promotional items
- Social media graphics
But that’s not all. Brand identity also includes more subtle components of your branding, such as the following:
- Image style
- Spacing around fonts and images
- Voice and tone
Although more indirect, these elements of brand identity help to paint the picture of what a company is all about. Without them, the branding gets fuzzy.
The Truth about Your Logo
Too many people think their logo is their brand. Hopefully, you understand now why that isn’t true.
But while your logo is not your brand, it is the most important component of your brand identity because it’s what identifies the brand quickly and simply. If a logo is done well, it will convey in one quick glance what the brand is all about, including beliefs, values, and emotions.
Remember, even though your logo is the visual representation of your company, it’s the meaning of the logo that is most important—not the way it looks.
Consistency Is the Key That Makes a Successful Brand
You can understand the difference between branding and identity all you want, but the absolute most important piece of all of this is consistency.
In fact, when you are able to present your brand consistently across all platforms, you can increase your revenue by up to 23%.
Your branding and your brand identity need to coincide. And not only that, but every element of the way you are representing your brand needs to be consistent across the board, from size and color to feel and voice.
You don’t build a brand by being haphazard about your identity. The biggest brands have put a lot of time and effort into carefully planning every element and touchpoint.
They use brand identity guidelines to ensure that anyone who is involved in representing their brand—such as graphic designers, web designers, copywriters, photographers, videographers, etc.—understands how to use their visual assets consistently.
For example, if your company sells durable truck tires, you wouldn’t just create a logo with your company name and be done with it. Instead, you’d choose a font that represents that durability. You’d choose colors that subconsciously convey ruggedness. The voice that you write and speak in would match as well, and so on.
What Role Do Branding and Identity Play in Being Memorable?
When it comes to looking at the difference between branding and identity, it’s evident that both are necessary. Together, they help a company to…
- Define and enhance its brand
- Influence how it is perceived
- Become memorable
Some brands have been able to instill such a feeling of connection with their audience that they can’t help but be successful. Typically, it’s the personality of the brand that accomplishes this.
And while personality is often displayed through all of the visual elements of a brand, you can’t forget that voice is a big part of brand identity. The way your copy is written, the words you use, and the tone of your company’s voice is just as important.
Examples of Incredible Branding & Identity
Let’s look at some examples of brands that are doing an amazing job with their branding and brand identity:
Dr. Squatch Soap Company
You’ve probably never heard of this one, but it’s a great one to check out. Their brand is all about being a man… a man’s man. And being a man means using their all-natural soap for men. They create hysterical videos like this one that sums up their brand pretty well.
Of course, Apple would have to be on this list. Their branding is extremely coherent and consistent. But more than that, Apple’s brand represents quality. They don’t take shortcuts, they only create the best chip-based products, and they aren’t afraid to not come out with anything until they come out with something great.
Starbucks hasn’t just created a brand; they’ve created a whole culture of coffee lovers who don’t care that they are spending triple the amount they would at Dunkin.
Target has done a great job not only with their brand identity but also with their branding. We see their simple logo, hear their name, and visit their stores, and we understand what they’re all about. We know we’ll consistently get quality products for low prices and a pleasant shopping experience. That’s a bull’s-eye right there!
Nike’s message is clear. It’s that everyone is an athlete. The Nike name came from the Greek goddess of victory. The swoosh logo is a representation not only of the Goddess’s wing but also of the sound of speed, power, and motivation. And their tagline—“Just do it”—further represents what they’re all about.
Final Thoughts on the Difference between Branding and Identity
By now, you should understand the difference between branding and identity, and while they are both critical components to a business’s success, we can’t forget that strategy is always the key.
You must make sure you’re using customer data to inform the decisions you make. Don’t go spending hours and hours revamping your brand identity and planning out your branding until you’ve carefully researched your market.
If you want help gaining clarity on what your branding is currently saying and what would make your company more successful, contact us for a free consultation. We specialize in turning data and facts into successful marketing campaigns.