Brand Identity Vs. Brand Image

Sarah L

7 mins read

Brand identity and brand image are terms that are often used interchangeably because they sound the same. However, the reality is far from the truth. The fact is that brand image and brand identity are quite different concepts, so they need to be distinguished and understood clearly.

Brand identity can be defined as the visible elements of your brand that enable your customers to distinguish and identify it. These visible elements include your logo, color palette, and typography, and are responsible for visually representing your brand. These elements work collectively to communicate your brand accurately, consistently, and creatively to form an impression on your customers’ minds. For instance, Chanel’s black logo background and high-quality packages add to its identity of a high-end luxury store.

Unlike brand identity, your brand image is the perception of your customers that is founded on their interaction and experience with your brand. It is only through these direct and indirect encounters that your consumers form a set of impressions, ideas, and beliefs about your brand. As your customers experience your brand, they develop a perception about it that adds to your image. Having said that, perceptions change and so does the brand image. For instance, some fast-food giants that were known for their convenience and affordability are struggling because they haven’t kept up with the changing dining habits.

While these definitions give a brief description of your brand identity and brand image, several differences between them set them apart. Getting to know these differences is very important for having a strong brand identity that comes with an indelible brand image.

Key differences between brand identity and brand image

S. No.Brand IdentityBrand Image
1.You alone are responsible for creating your brand identity with the help of brand elements that complement and harmonize with each other.Your brand image is entirely perceived by your customers based on their interaction with your brand.
2.You communicate your brand message through tangible elements of your brand identity.Your customers then interpret your message based on the image you project to them with tangible elements of your brand identity.
3.Your brand identity defines your purpose and vision.Your brand image relays how far you’ve come in fulfilling your vision and purpose.
4.Your brand identity consists of several tangible elements like logo, typography, color palette, tagline, and packaging.Your brand image consists of both tangible and intangible elements like brand positioning and brand personality.
5.Your brand identity is meant to be holistic and consistent across every touch-point. When modeled in such a way, it endures in any situation.Your brand image is subjective/personal and based on the impression you leave on your customers, at any point of interaction.
6.Your brand identity is active in nature, as you hold the power to establish it in a way that profits you.Your brand image is passive in nature, and its development lies entirely in the hands of your customers.
7.Your brand identity is the total promise that you make to your customers, portrayed through your brand elements.Your brand image is the total perception of your customers based on the end number of encounters with your brand.

Based on this table, there are a number of differences that lie between brand image and brand identity. However, they are interrelated, and despite the differences that set them apart, if there’s one thing that is common to both brand identity and image, it’s their customers. So, while you are busy communicating yourself more coherently to your customers, they are already forming your brand image based on their interactions with your brand. It then becomes imperative to know your customers’ likes and dislikes, along with their needs, so that you can specifically cater to them and fashion a brand identity they can identify with.

Your customer’s perception is thus influenced by your projection. If you project your brand as coherent and consistent, your customers will be much more likely to perceive it in a brighter light. Ultimately, when you focus on shaping a strong brand identity, a positive brand image is likely to follow.

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