Your Company’s Brand and It’s Identity – Why the Two Are Different.
We often get asked what is the difference between a company’s brand and their identity. I mean, after all, we’re a branding agency, right? But the words “brand” and “branding” have become real diluted in the past few years. Why? Because you ask 3 different marketers or designers, you get 3 different answers. This can create a lot of confusion in the eyes of the consumer.
I’m here to set the record straight. At the very least, you’ll know how Logan Gattis describes brand and identity which will help you understand more about what to expect when you work with us.
WHAT IS A BRAND?
Your company’s brand is the way your customers perceive you. It doesn’t matter how you want them to see you, or how you think they see you. All that matters is how they actually see you. What they believe about you. THAT’S your brand. You can’t “brand” something. You earn your brand.
Many design firms (and I’ve been guilty of this myself!) will explain “branding” to a potential client by speaking about the visual components. The logo, the website, etc. These are tangible things and it makes answering the “do you do branding?” question easier. But it’s not the full story.
WHAT IS IDENTITY?
Your company’s identity is how you are trying to portray yourself to your customers. In this case, it’s irrelevant how your customer’s see you. That’s your brand. What makes up a company’s identity are things like your mission statement, goals, beliefs, promise to your customers, etc. The corporate collateral created (logo, website, advertising pieces, etc) are visual extensions of your identity that you use to try to influence your brand but they are NOT the identity or the brand in of themselves.
When you come to us and ask if we do branding, the answer is “yes, but…” Your brand is up to your customers. But we utilize our expertise to help you shape your identity and then design the visual collateral in such a way that your brand will be more aligned with your identity. So yes, we do influence brand. But your brand is not in our hands to “do.” At least not in the way you might think it is.
Maybe you hired Logan Gattis to come in and do a brand audit on your company. What we’re focusing on is your customers. We do bring in your marketing collateral and identity information so that we can analyze what identity you’re putting out there next to the brand that your customers are getting. The main focus though is what your customers are saying about you. The brand audit is not the same as an identity audit.
WHY DOES THIS DISTINCTION MATTER?
The reason that it’s important to understand the difference between brand and identity is that it will help you find a design firm that will be able to truly help you. If a firm comes in and tells you that they can design a brand FOR you, ask clarifying questions. Make sure they completely understand the distinction. They can influence a brand by designing the visual collateral and assisting with the identity, but they cannot design a brand. Only your customers can do that.
I would also suggest making sure that your design firm understands that a company’s identity is made up of much more than just the visual elements. If they have created marketing collateral for you and have never discussed your goals, beliefs, promise, etc, chances are they are not designing your collateral in the most effective way possible. Your collateral can be the best looking design in the world, but if it’s not showcasing who you want to be as a company, it’s not influencing your brand.
Subtle differences, maybe. But they mean everything.