Brand image vs. brand identity— both subjects have much to do with consumer opinion, but they have a distinct difference.
Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, once said,
“Branding is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
This is a fitting statement regarding brand image vs. brand identity, and you’re about to find out why!
Before diving into brand image vs. brand identity, let's first look at these concepts individually.
Brand Identity: Definition
Your identity is what makes you, well, you! And your brand identity follows the same concept. What is it about your brand that sets it apart from all the others in the industry you have chosen? The answer lies in its identity.
How do you build your brand identity? Start by answering these questions:
- Why did I decide to start this brand?
- What am I hoping to achieve?
- What makes my brand special and distinctive?
- What are the essential values and beliefs that go into upholding my brand?
- Why should consumers choose my brand and not another?
- If I had to translate my brand into a visual design, what would it be?
- If I could describe the core of my brand in five words, what would they be?
Once you have asked yourself these questions, it won’t be hard to build the essential aspects of a brand identity, namely:
- Your brand’s personality
- Your brand’s vision and mission
- Your brand’s belief system
- Your brand’s voice
- Your brand’s positioning
- Your brand’s design
When you think of Coca-Cola, what comes to mind? Likely, it is the striking red color that most people associate with the brand. This red, though just a brand color, is a fundamental aspect of Coca-Cola’s identity. It contributes to the brand’s personality and design. It is featured in its logo, which is the face of a brand, emphasizing the element to anyone who sees it.
Today, most people associate Coca-Cola with red and uplifting energy. This is just one component of brand identity, and each element should contribute to each other and come together seamlessly.
Ultimately, your brand identity is who your brand is as an entire corporate entity. It has a personality, unique views, and a drive to accomplish something meaningful. It is what separates you from countless competitors. It shows your target market who you are, what they can expect from you, and most importantly, why they should choose you.
Now, you can’t fully control how consumers perceive your brand. Still, with a solid brand identity and insight into your brand image, you can definitely steer your way into a favorable and desired light. This brings you to the next important question: what is brand image?
Brand Image: Meaning
Simply put, a brand image is how customers perceive your brand. It’s how they feel about your brand. In a way, your brand image is a direct correlation to your brand identity. How you want your audience to feel and think about you is dependent on how you constructed your brand identity.
Unlike brand identity, which you must begin forming right away, your brand image develops over time. Your audience will build an idea of your brand based on observations and interactions with you.
Your brand can be perceived differently among many people, so building a consistent brand image is no easy task. However, if you have consistency as a major factor during the brand identity process, it will likely follow through with your brand image.
These are some benefits of having a solid brand image:
- More profit as customers respond to brands that resonate with them.
- It will be easier to introduce changes or new products.
- A robust and solid business-customer relationship.
- Existing customers will be more confident in the brand’s capabilities.
- Customers are more likely to recommend the brand to their peers.
Customers’ perception of your brand leads to a certain mindset that can influence whether your products and services will attract more people and increase company growth.
It is important to emphasize that brand image happens in time; thus, you must be consistent with all brand decisions and determined to your brand’s long-term growth. One misstep can affect your brand’s image, and it will take time and effort to resolve these hiccups.
Studies show that 86% of people are more likely to pay more to a company with higher ratings and good reviews. This is an example of a business with a positive brand image.
To build a strong brand image, you must:
- Construct a solid and consistent brand identity.
- Let your brand identity show through in every business decision.
- Prioritize customer needs and satisfaction at all costs.
Now that you understand what they are as independent, what is brand image vs. brand identity? And what happens to your brand when they come together beautifully?
Brand Image Vs. Brand Identity: A Relationship
Brand identity is how the company portrays itself to the customers, and how the brand wants the customer to perceive it. On the other hand, brand image is how the customers actually perceive the brand.
What makes a brand image tricky is that control over it is almost non-existent. That’s why it’s important to always align with your brand identity in every single move you make as a brand.
Does your brand believe in reliability as a core belief? Offer outstanding customer service and support. Is your brand voice encouraging and friendly? Be consistent with that across all news and platforms. Consistency with your identity is key to having a successful brand image.
Think of it this way: Brands are like people. When you meet a new person, you subconsciously assess their personality— how they talk, look, and operate. Then, you begin to form a perception of this person based on your interactions. This perception of them can also be influenced by what other people tell you about them.
Put your brand in the shoes of the person you met. How can you guarantee to be well-liked by everyone you meet? There is no guarantee, but the effort is a determining factor. Your brand must strive to be well-rounded, engaging, and dependable.
Brands spend a lot of time on their identity for a good reason. When your brand identity is out in the world, brand images start to form, and you want them to be as positive as can be.
Unfortunately, you can have a strong brand identity but have a poor image. In that case, there are other tips to help you with this predicament, namely:
- Build positive relationships within your industry
- Be engaging and friendly on social media
- Ensure that customers have a wonderful experience with you
- Offer giveaways and special shout-outs
- Have a brand cause (charities, organizations, etc.)
- Be consistent and careful with every business move
Are you having a case of information overload right now? Don’t worry! To help you take in all this information, here is an infographic of brand image vs. brand identity in concise and straightforward details.
Brand Image Vs. Brand Identity: A Powerful Chain
The fundamental difference between brand image and brand identity is perspective.
Your brand identity is entirely in your hands, and your brand image is something you can contribute to, but at the end of the day, your audience decides what it is.
The most you can do is do your part as a brand— be incredibly reliable, prioritize your customers, and be a well-rounded business. If you take these steps seriously and consistently, a favorable brand image is just a step away.
A good brand image is an indication of a business that is self-aware and likable. And the key to reaching this stage is very much rooted in what you do in the beginning. Build your brand identity with a solid foundation— figure out your beliefs, get a beautiful logo, all of it!
Sooner or later, you’ll get the highly beneficial magnitude of what both traits have to offer: a brand worth trusting.