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Branding and brand identity are often used interchangeably yet they’ve distinct meanings. Many people equate the phrases to a company’s logo but it couldn’t be further from the truth.

Branding is the process of creating a certain perception about a company while brand identity refers to the elements by which people recognize a business.

Understanding their differences is critical to exploring their potential. In this guide, we explain their meanings and how to get the most out of each.

 

What is a Brand?

We need to understand the meaning of a brand before defining the other concepts. Simply put, a brand is a set of distinct ideas, perceptions, and feelings people have about a company.

It’s what customers think or feel about you. Note that it’s not what you tell your target audience, but how your customers or target audience perceive you.

We can think of a brand as a promise a company makes to its customers. This promise creates an expectation of the benefits the buyer enjoys once they purchase the company’s product or service.

As such, the aesthetics and visuals only help enhance the audience’s perception of a brand; they don’t define it.

A brand is also bigger than a logo; it’s an intangible connection between a target audience and a company.

 

Why a Brand is Important

A brand distinguishes a business from its competitors. The qualities customers associate the brand with are unique from other businesses.

It’s a brand that makes a company credible enough to charge premium prices for its product or service without impacting its bottom line.

Apple, for example, charges premium prices for all its products, yet it remains increasingly popular in the market due to its credibility.

 

What is Branding?

Now that we understand what a brand is, we can now move on to define another concept- branding.

Branding is the process of shaping how others feel or perceive a brand. These are the methods a company uses to influence what people think about the company.

Thus any effort made toward building awareness and reputation around a company, its products, or its services culminate in branding.

Sometimes branding isn’t always impactful on your target audience’s mind, but the more deliberate and cohesive you are, the higher the chance of success.

When making decisions regarding branding consider:

  • How you want to be perceived
  • Your brand’s goal
  • How authentic you want to be

 

Why Branding is Important

Branding is one factor that makes a company more recognizable.

Visual aesthetics, advertising, and the message help amplify a brand’s perception especially when they’re consistent across all channels.

Branding also enhances customer loyalty. Remember a brand makes a promise to deliver a product or service in a certain way.

And when you do it over time customers trust your brand and pay allegiance to you.

Customers are loyal to the brand; not the product or service.

 

What is Brand Identity?

Brand identity is the collection of tangible expressions a business uses to identify itself.

Elements such as logos, social media graphics, audio, website design, brochures, and promotional items are creations used to define a brand’s identity.

The more distinct, cohesive, and specific the elements are, the higher the chance of creating a unique brand that’s highly recognized.

Most people equate brand identity to a logo but one is a subset of the other. A logo is merely a graphic element of a brand’s identity.

Brand identity is more holistic including elements such as logo variations, colors, and typefaces to help:

  • Make the brand more recognizable
  • Keep the brand’s visual identity consistent across different platforms

 

Why Brand Identity is Important

Brand identity provides a channel for you to develop a personality and voice in a market.

It also plays a critical role in marketing your products and services and ensures your identity remains consistent.

 

What are the Main Differences between Branding and Brand Identity

The definitions already point out striking differences between the concepts, but we look at them in more detail:

Nature

Branding is a continuous activity that’s influenced by consumers’ experiences and opinions. That’s because the two elements play a critical role in molding a company’s image.

When a customer has a positive interaction with a brand, they’re more likely to talk about the company in a more positive light.

Also, the company is encouraged to create better experiences for its customers through branding.

By contrast, brand identity is a more stable and controlled concept. It’s more consistent, serving as an anchor for the brand over time.

This stability ensures your target audience recognizes and associates specific elements, e.g., the messaging and the logo with the brand.

 

Impact on the Business

Branding has a direct impact on a company’s bottom line. It can create a positive image of a brand leading your target audience to choose your products or services over your competitors.

Branding also plays a critical role in shaping the company’s image. Your target audience will perceive your brand as customer-centric, reliable, credible, or trustworthy based on branding.

Brand identity, on the other hand, helps a company foster customer loyalty and recognition.

Recognition happens when customers can identify your brand easily because they’ve seen the messaging, colors, and logos frequently.

Recognition attracts customers to your brand, leading to increased sales. They’ll also develop loyalty to your brand because they can trust you.

Your customers will be inclined to choose your products or services even when competitors offer similar things.

 

Control

You’ll also notice that brand identity allows some level of control while branding doesn’t. A business has limited control over a customer’s perception of its image.

In an era where information spreads like wildfire, it’s easy for customers to catch on to a false narrative about a brand and develop a bad attitude toward it.

For example, Facebook faced a branding crisis after it was revealed that the company had misused user data.

The company had limited control over the narrative and the users’ perception of the company’s actions.

By comparison, brand identity allows a level of control over the company’s image.

Elements such as the color palette, messaging, typography, mission, and logo usage are all within the company’s control.

What’s more, brand guidelines outline how a logo must be used, its size, clear space around it, proportions, etc.

The Samsung logo, for example, always has a certain size depending on the product it’s placed on.

 

Conclusion

In a nutshell, branding is the process of developing a brand’s identity. The process is intangible, relating to the company’s culture and values. By contrast, brand identity is tangible and is often associated with a brand’s sensory appeal. This guide goes a long way in helping you understand the differences between the two concepts and curate a more effective brand startegy. However, if you’re still experiencing challenges, don’t hesitate to call us.

Paul Simiyu

Founder and Team Lead of Simpaul Design, a brand strategy and design agency in Nairobi, Kenya. Here at Simpaul Design, we work with brands across various categories with a focus on connecting with consumers and building brands that people want to be a part of. We specialize in brand identity and strategy, UX/UI, and brand transformation.

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