June 29, 2020

The difference between Branding and Brand Identity

The difference between Branding and Brand Identity

Branding is a term that is often being used incorrectly. Many people (designers and non-designers alike) use this term “branding” when they’re really referring to “brand identity”. A simple way of defining each term is thinking of a product’s outer and inner values.

Let’s use Coca Cola as an example: The company is easily recognizable by the bright red label and logotype, even a silhouette of a glass bottle can remind you of Coke. The branding is what goes on behind closed doors – only showcasing advertisements during the warmer months and making you feel like having a Coca Cola that’s clearly lekker cold due to the water droplets on the outside of the can and the sound of a can being cracked open. As viewers, we don’t need to see their advertisement ideas and frame-by-frame conceptualization for the advert, they already know who they’re talking to and how they will be conveying that message.

In this blog, I will be explaining the difference between branding and brand identity to create a better understanding of these terms.

The difference between Branding and Brand Identity

What is Branding?

Branding, in my opinion, is the MOST important part of a business. I find that a lot of clients have an amazing idea for a product or service. A great deal of research goes into the foundation of those ideas and how the idea can look presentable by getting a logo and some business cards designed. To Pinterest we go! A designer needs a lot more information to capture the essence of your branding. A brand is not all about the visuals. This is where the foundation of a product / service idea really comes to play. A brand is not only what product / service is being delivered, but also who it is communicated to and HOW it is being communicated. If you are expecting to be blown away by your company visuals, then you must explain your heart and intention behind this product / service.

I've set out a few (it could become a rabbit-hole, and excitingly so) important points that not only helps a business owner to figure out exactly what they want to achieve with their ideas, but also for the graphic designer to understand where they want their business to go:

  • Apart from the general idea and company name, stating a clear company mission is a great starting point.
  • Identifying a target audience, more specifically a niche.
  • Identifying competitors is just as important as identifying the target audience.
  • What is the overall message that will be communicated, and how will it be communicated? What is your tone-of-voice? A lawyer will have a different tone of voice to a Coffee shop.
  • Having company buzzwords.
  • Brand values and boundaries. What is the company willing to do and what not? An example could be as a single business owner and parent, deciding that there will be no working overtime.

What is a Brand Identity / Brand?

Once the core of the brand has been identified, the creative brand identity can commence. The brand identity is directly linked to brand recognition. Seeing a logo, colour-combinations or even typography can be linked to certain brands – think about the Coca Cola example I have used earlier. A brand helps to categorize a product / service. It even lures a specific target market. The brand Identity is therefore the visuals that communicate your brand values. The purpose of a brand identity is to establish guidelines and set consistency. This includes logos, business cards, letterheads, print-advertising, how the social media posts will be designed and what fonts and colours are being used in the visuals to name a few.

When the two terms are laid out next to one another like this, it is easy to see the difference. So, in a nutshell: Branding (or brand) is intangible, is what you want your customers to feel when they think about your business, in other words, the brand is an experience. Brand identity (or brand design) is tangible, it is like a face of your brand, so it is a visual side of your business.

If you’re not sure if your branding is clear, or your brand needs a facelift, you can give us a call, and we’d be happy to help.

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