When you look at a logo symbol, can you tell what company it’s for without any hints?
Depending on the logo, it can be easy to figure out but that’s our point. Branding, Brand, & Brand Identity all play a part in you recognizing the logo. Many of these terms get thrown around and some believe that one of these terms can encompass all three.
You know what? They’re wrong.
While all three work together, they all have their function and goal when it comes to the success or recognition a business receives. Because of the confusion, we wanted to take a deeper dive and define what exactly is the difference between Brand, Branding & Brand Identity.
Put your thinking caps on, it’s time for class!
What Brand, Branding & Brand Identity are not
Many people, when they start thinking about branding for their business, it usually comes at a point where a colleague or friend, recommends that they put some time and money into their brand identity and build their brand online to help grow their business.
If you do a Google search for “brand”, you’ll easily pull up more than nine billion (yes, billion) results for “brand”. It’s no wonder then that many people have more questions than answers:
- Does branding mean having a professional logo?
- What does branding mean and how do I do it?
When you look at the words “brand, branding, identity, even logo“, they all describe essentially the same thing, don’t they?
In essence, yes and no. Like many major companies, it’s all related to how the business & brand is managed.
Think of some of the biggest names out there: Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Coca-Cola, and their logo comes into your mind almost immediately and just as quickly, you have an association with any of these brands regardless of whether they are good or bad, you have an emotional response when you see it.
Your logo is not your brand or your identity.
In fact, your logo is less than 10% of your brand.
That can be hard for people to wrap their head around but all three aspects have their role in the process and together build the image of the business that is perceived by consumers. By understanding what each term means can we start to grasp the unlimited potential each one has.
What is Brand, Branding, Brand Identity?
- Brand – The meaning that people attach to your organisation, product or service.
- Branding – The management of a brand’s meaning.
- Identity – The sensory elements that are used to identify a brand.
- Logo – A mark or icon that identifies the business in its simplest form.
Let’s dive a little deeper…
What is a Brand?
It seems like everyone wants to label everything a brand these days from using the term to describe the logo for a company even though the term brand does not mean a logo or identity.
In reality, it is much more than something such as a logo. It’s the assets of a company that can’t be seen. It’s the emotional connection between the company and consumer.
For example, Coca-Cola has been around for more than 130 years and beloved by millions of people all over the world. In 1985, the company attempted to change the formula much to the anger and dismay of its loyal customers. The emotional connection that the company had built with its customers over such a long period was negatively affected and also forced a company to change its decisions for fear of losing customers.
Each day, we find new things that interest us or see a new product at the grocery store that competes with the other products for our money. That competition creates infinite choices and companies want to become irreplaceable in our lives and look for ways to connect to us not just through sight or sound but emotionally.
So, what is a brand?
A brand is the meaning that people attach to your organisation, product or service.
In contrast, brand-ING is the management of that meaning.
What is Brand Identity?
OK, so if your brand is what your customers think of you when you’re not there, how can you change their opinion and try to influence how they feel about you? This is where “brand identity” can change the game.
Your brand identity is anything that can identify your brand, and that includes your logo. It is tangible so that it can appeal to other’s senses. It’s this physical and visual presence that fuels recognition and can help make big ideas even more accessible. Simply stated: everything that you see (visual language) is considered a brand identity, however it does also include other sensory elements such as sound, touch and even smell.
The overall goal of a brand identity is to find items that you can use to tell your story as well as engage people about who you are in a meaningful way. This way, every time your product shows up, it will be consistent in its appearance.
The elements that can make up Brand Identity include:
- Wordmark or logo
- Key Colors
- Standard typographic treatments
- Library of graphic elements
- Different logo lockups
- Corporate typefaces
- A consistent style for images
- Sound, touch, smell
The key to any successful brand identity is consistency. This lets your audience create memories around who you are and what you can offer them. The biggest purpose of a brand identity is to have guidelines on how you should use your visual assets to ensure this consistency.
Having consistency in your branding identity helps to project the kind of culture that surrounds not only your company but your product as well. This culture, if done right, becomes the brand identity for your entire business.
So, to go back to the logo as a brand idea. Your logo alone is not your brand identity, it is a part of your whole brand identity. This is essentially what graphic designers do. Designers don’t design a brand for their clients, they design their client’s brand identity.
What is Branding?
So if the brand is the emotional piece and brand identity is the physical piece, then what exactly is branding?
Branding is the management of a brand’s meaning.
That’s right. Branding is more than just a logo or a website. It’s an entire process of taking the business and creating a name and image that helps it stand apart from its competition, among many more benefits as outlined in the image above.
Done mainly through using advertising campaigns that are designed to have a consistent theme. It is also accomplished by seizing every opportunity to tell people why they should choose you over your competition and this is helped by consistent use of brand identity as well as a strong brand strategy.
Branding is both physical (brand identity) and emotional (brand) and is the sum of all of the attributes that the company brings to the market. It does this by communicating the character and values of what a brand is and is not.
Types of Branding
While the process is ultimately the same, there can be several different types of branding:
- Cause Branding – You can align your brand with a charitable cause or foundation.
- Digital Branding – This uses social media, search engine optimization, the web, and driving commerce on the web.
- Co-branding – This can be done by partnering with another brand with reach as the goal
- Country Branding – This is used to attract businesses and tourists to a country
- Personal Branding – This is the way an individual would build their reputation
The thing with branding is that it is not just one size fits all. While it is the plan for clarifying what is being offered by a company and even describes the results that are expected. The word “expected” can be a very slippery slope so you need to be careful.
Your intention might be to present yourself and your business’ brand as friendly, trustworthy, and understanding but how they see you may be different so you want to be sure that your brand strategy is consistent and guides your company to doing business as well as understanding the needs of your customer.
What is a logo?
To understand what a logo is, we must first understand what it is for.
A logo is for… identification.
A logo identifies a company or product via the use of a mark, flag, symbol or signature. A logo does not sell the company directly nor rarely does it describe a business. Logo’s derive their meaning from the quality of the thing it symbolises, not the other way around – logos are there to identity, not to explain. In a nutshell, what a logo means is more important than what it looks like.
What’s the Difference between Brand, Branding, Brand Identity & Logos?
The word brand is thrown around way too much by marketing gurus and other people who think they know what is the best thing for your business. Your logo is not your brand or your identity. There is an entire process behind branding, and only with a good grasp of the emotional aspect and the physical aspect of your business, can you build a brand that will succeed.