I have noticed that there is quite a bit of confusion when it comes to brand versus brand identity that the two have began to be used interchangeably. The uses of the terms have evolved and now they are used to describe entirely different things but the two terms are still vastly different. There is also some debate on whether a graphic designer (who designs brand identities) can describe themselves as a brand designer. I describe myself as a brand identity designer because I believe a graphic designer cannot design a brand for a company, but they can design brand identities. So what’s the difference?
A quick Google search describes a brand as “a product, service, or concept that is publicly distinguished from other products, services, or concepts so that it can be easily communicated and usually marketed.” But what really is a brand? We know of popular brands like Coca-Cola, Facebook, Audi and so on. What makes those companies is more than their brand name; it is what people think or feel when they hear the brand name. It is your promise to the customer, it tells them what they can expect from your company. Forbes has this to say about a brand, “It’s everything the public thinks it knows about your name brand offering—both factual (e.g. It comes in a robin’s-egg-blue box), and emotional (e.g. It’s romantic). Your brand name exists objectively; people can see it. It’s fixed. But your brand exists only in someone’s mind.” (Source)
The most simple way to describe a brand is how the public perceive and who you are and want to be. It is not visible, it’s perceptual.
Now this is where things get interesting. A brand identity is the visual representation of your brand. It involves the designs, colours and styles that set you apart from other companies in the same market. It is what makes your business unique. Not only this; it’s what the public recognise when they see your logo or even the colours. It’s the Nike swish, the McDonald’s yellow arches, Apple’s bitten apple and so on. When designing a brand, the designer works with the company to transform the company’s mission and vision, personality, essence, values and ethos into a cohesive visual brand identity that reflects all of those. With a good brand identity, you can change the public’s visual perception of your brand into the one you want your brand to be.
Simply, brand identity is the visual representation of your company and brand, the visual representation of who you want to be and how you want the public to perceive you. It
A brand and brand identity both work together to illustrate a company’s reputation. With a great brand strategy and brand identity, businesses can work towards building a positive and favourable reputation.
What is your understanding of the two terms? I’d love to hear your thoughts!