Brand vs. Visual Identity – What’s the Difference?

By Azadeh BrownMar 15, 2016

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The term ‘branding’ is lobbed around like a volleyball these days. You’ll hear statements from all corners of the marketing world:

We need to build brand-awareness.”

“This campaign launch has to be ‘on-brand’.”

“I want to develop a sub-brand for this new product launch.”

The word ‘brand’ has become synonymous with ‘identity.' In reality, these are two separate things.


A Brand Is:

  • A promise of distinction.
  • A totality of perceptions (everything you see, hear, read, know, feel, think, etc.) about a product, service or business.
  • What holds a distinctive position in customers’ minds based on past experiences, associations, and future expectations.
  • A short-cut of attributes, benefits, beliefs and values that differentiate and simplify the decision-making process.'

A Visual Identity Is:

  •  A way to represent the brand through critical components: names, logos, typefaces, and colors that encapsulate and convey the symbolic meanings that cannot be imparted through words alone.
  •  In a broader (corporate) sense, elements such as building architecture, color schemes, and dress code.

The visual identity of your brand is a symbolic embodiment of all the information connected to the company, product or services that you offer.

Knowing the difference allows you pinpoint where your focus should be. If you’re looking for a way to create visual conformity across marketing materials, you are probably looking to develop a visual identity and may not need to spend as much time in the discovery process of brand-building exercises.

If you’re looking to change the focus of your company or organization (ex. your core products or service offerings have changed or you’re looking to reposition yourself in the marketplace) you will need to spend more time reflecting on who you are and what your brand is. 

Check out our latest e-book to learn more about branding.

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