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What’s the difference between a brand and an identity?

What’s the difference between a brand and an identity?

July 21, 2011 by David Leatt

A prospective client recently asked me — what is the difference between their brand and their identity. When we asked them why the need for clarification, they replied that the agency that had up until recently produced all their marketing collateral, had always dismissed the two as being one and the same.

So I felt I would share my own views on this matter, in the hope it will help businesses identify the value of having both.

To me, the brand is the emotional relationship that instils reliability and trust between a business and its customers, whereas the identity reflects the look and feel of a business or organisation.

Understating the difference should be ignored at one’s peril. After all, it’s not really the client’s responsibility to know the answer, but the duty of the agency to impart their knowledge and experience and deliver both.

The marketing sector needs to smarten up its act and take more responsibility for the brands that are being entrusted into its care, as fundamental mistakes and bad advice can have a detrimental impact on any business.

David Leatt is the managing director of Origination

Comments

The 'core' identity is who they are, what they stand for and what they wish to be known for and the cultural values within the company.

The brand identity is the outward expression of that identity in a way that is contextually relevant to the world the brand lives in.

The 'brand' is the totality of what the customer considers before making the purchase; the customer's perception of.

 

I perceive the brand as being the creation of the company, this is what the company can control. The identity is what the customer creates, it is the perception, and is out of the control of the company.

I agree with the overall thread.

When meeting clients I often help them understand the difference by explaining that at the centre of a brand is a set of values, beliefs and aspirations. Effectively the intangibles that set the brand apart from the rest. From the customers' point of view this is experienced in every touch point, every product / service, and feeling about that brand.

An identity is subsequently an expression of that, set within some core tangible elements such as the logo, product / service features and core graphical deliverables. I.e. some of the physical things that a brand becomes recognisable by.

With Aston Martin, as an example, the brand is centred around the fact a customer is buying into an exclusive club, a product that is aspirational and respected, where the customer experience is key to that feeling. The identity is then delivered through the iconic logo, the distinctive shape of the cars, etc.

A great debate that will roll on forever...

As has been said, your identity is the outward representation of your ethos which is why you should never expect to pay peanuts for it. Your brand however, is the actual ethos that should run throughout everything you do as a business and everyone who represents you.

This is always an interesting discussion.

I always see it as (and I've said this elsewhere) brand is whatever is left in the persons head when nothing is in front of them, it's what you think of a company.
 Branding and design companies can help shape and influence that vision but they can't ever really control it.

 Branding is the whole experience, the look, the feel, the service etc. It's what you come away with when you have received the service/product etc.

Logo design, marketing material, customer service, after service care, how your spoken to on the phone by that company, etc are all part of branding.

An interesting discussion. I think that identity is just one aspect of a brand, one which you can control. A lot of what makes up a brand doesn't exist in a guidelines document, but in the minds of the public. Perceptions of your brand depend on many things, including things often not within the purview of the marketing department like customer service. I also think that it's important to remember that identity isn't just a visual thing, increasingly businesses are realising how important their 'tone of voice' is. We work with a lot of big IT companies and they are moving from stuffy, third-person to a much more friendly, engaging and narrative style in the first-person.

An interesting discussion. I think that identity is just one aspect of a brand, one which you can control. A lot of what makes up a brand doesn't exist in a guidelines document, but in the minds of the public. Perceptions of your brand depend on many things, including things often not within the purview of the marketing department like customer service. I also think that it's important to remember that identity isn't just a visual thing, increasingly businesses are realising how important their 'tone of voice' is. We work with a lot of big IT companies and they are moving from stuffy, third-person to a much more friendly, engaging and narrative style in the first-person.

I think if you are talking about clarification of terms then there is further distinction that can be made here. There is the brand identity, the organisation's core identity and the brand.

The 'core' identity is who they are, what they stand for and what they wish to be known for and the cultural values within the company.

The brand identity is the outward expression of that identity in a way that is contextually relevant to the world the brand lives in.

The 'brand' is the totality of what the customer considers before making the purchase; the customer's perception of.

I believe there is a lot of confusion between brand identity and core identity. You 'create' a brand identity (from the core identity) but the core identity is fundamentally who they are and that is what makes a brand special. A lot of agencies miss that out altogether.

I completely agree Sir...to me a brand is besically one or more promises that is on offer and the brand identity is more of a personality the look n feel it choses to create..Like if one asks me who,what,how is Wills or Pepsi...My answere would be Wills is essentially a man,aged above 35,working well etc and pepsi is more of a teenager,flamboyant,vibrant..as communicated through their appearance through various marketing mix to us...

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