Brand identity and brand image are terms that are sometimes wrongly used interchangeably, but in fact are profoundly different; although closely interrelated. In this blog we will uncover the differences between both and gain a deep understanding on both subjects to help you build your brand. Also included at the bottom are examples of brand identity and some examples of brand image to help understand them better.
What Is Brand Identity?
Brand identity is the way a business presents itself to the world and wants to be perceived by its target audience. Think of it like the business’s face, and personality – it reflects the values and philosophy of the business to create a certain impression in the minds of the target audience. Visual elements like the logo, packaging as well as brand graphics and textual/spoken elements like brand name, slogan and marketing copy play a key role in building a business’s brand identity.
What Is the Importance of Brand Identity?
The importance of branding or the creation of brand identity are immeasurable. An effectively created brand identity makes its business’s products/services stand out from those of its competitors, increase brand recall among its target audience for the right reasons, such as their exceptional features or qualities. It not only helps form a business’s first impression, but also plays a huge part in keeping customers loyal to the business – by pleasing them enough to buy its products/services repeatedly in the long run. To keep it concise – the benefits of brand identity include brand recognition, differentiation, building credibility, loyalty, brand advocacy, customer attraction, brand extension, creating brand perception and brand image to name a few. That is why creating a brand identity is most important for any business.
What Is Brand Image?
Brand image is how the world, including existing and potential customers, perceive a business in its entirety. It is the overall effect of the beliefs, impressions and feelings of the customers about the business, formed due to various reasons, including the business’s brand identity. In simple words, brand image is what people think of a brand. It is what the brand identity ultimately aims to shape.
Brand identity is created by the business, whereas a brand image is created by the customer’s perception of the business.
What Is the Importance of Brand Image?
Customers associate products/services of known and popular brands with a higher quality and reliability than those with brand names they haven’t heard of. Ultimately, for a business, the importance of brand image is connected to the importance of brand identity or the importance of branding. The brand image shows how the target audience actually perceives the business and this has a direct impact on sales. The way the target audience perceives a business may or may not conform to its brand identity. In an ideal scenario the customers identify the brand as the business intends them to with its efforts in branding. But for various reasons like customer reviews, cultural context, media coverage, unconscious bias, etc the brand image may be something entirely different and even contradicting to the brand’s intention. If the brand image is significantly different from what the brand identity intended to create, it is a sign that the brand identity isn’t effective enough and therefore needs modification. Hence, brand image is more important for a business than brand identity.
Let us understand this with some examples that illustrate how brand identity failed to create the desired brand image.
- In Mexico, a soft drink branded ‘Fresca’ was being marketed but it failed to capture the market because fresca in Mexico was a slang for the word “lesbian”.
- In 2009, Tropicana changed its packaging for rebranding with an objective to make it more appealing to customers. They revised the packaging to make it more cleaner and minimal, compared to the previous one. The result? It left loyal customers confused. They identified the brand as just another generic juice brand and failed to recognise it as their favoured juice brand. It resulted in a mammoth 20% decline in sales.
- Dove’s ‘Real Beauty’ Campaign that was delivering exceptional results for 15 years, prompted the company to change their packaging in England. They created limited edition bottles for their soap that resembled women’s bodies in abstract shapes. Instead of being empowering for women of all bosy types, it only resulted in making the female customers self-conscious while selecting the bottle they identified with their body shape.
After a brutal backlash on twitter and facebook, Dove realised their packaging was sending the wrong message.
What Are the Differences Between a Brand Image and Brand Identity?
Now that you know what is brand identity and what is brand image, here is a table of comparison between the two:
|Basis for Comparison
|It defines how a business aims to be perceived.
|It defines how a business is actually perceived.
|Degree of Control
|A business has complete control over it.
|A business doesn’t have full control over it.
|Time of Creation
|It is created first.
|It is formed over time.
|It changes only when the business rebrands itself.
|It is constantly varying in time, more or less.
|It kickstarts the brand marketing process.
|It reveals brand marketing success.
How to Create a Brand Identity?
For creating a brand identity, you must create all the elements of a brand identity.
It is the word or set of words used to identify a brand.
For example: Pepsi
It is the visual symbol used to identify a brand.
- Graphics & Images
They encompass all the properties of the visuals used in the brand’s marketing content as well as product packaging. The visual properties include the style and color scheme of the graphics used and the resolution, lighting, and edits (like filters) of the photographs used. They must match with the properties of the designed logo.
It refers to the fonts used in all promotional content of a business. Consistency is essential for people to relate a font to a business, consciously or subconsciously.
- Tone & Voice
They convey how casual or serious and economical or premium a business is. It is important to have a consistent and suitable tone and voice according to the mood and vibe your brand communication aims to create.
These aren’t necessary for every business, but when used, they must succinctly convey the attitude or value of the business. The catchier, the better.
How to Develop a Positive Brand Image?
To develop a positive brand image, you must know your business’s target audience as thoroughly as possible and create a brand identity that would not only distinguish your business from its competitors, but also deeply resonate with your target audience. The first step in understanding your target audience is building a brand persona, the second is research.
Once you make your brand identity known to the world, you must find out your brand image by surveying your target audience and ensure that it sufficiently matches with your crafted brand identity.
Here are some of the most useful tips to develop a positive brand image:
- Develop a fitting brand identity
Your brand identity is the foundation of all your branding and marketing efforts. First of all, make sure you get all its elements right.
- Know your brand’s TG
Understand your target group’s lifestyle, professions, income, preferences and pain points and tailor your brand communication so that it deeply resonates with them.
- Ensure brand consistency across channels
Maintain consistency in your brand’s tone of voice, visual style and messaging across all your marketing channels, be it your social media or product packaging.
- Fulfill brand promises
Make sure your products/services deliver on the promises made through your branding and marketing to ensure brand trust or, in other words, your target group’s faith in what your brand tells them.
- Engage with your potential customers and audience
Interact with your existing customers as well as the followers/subscribers of your brand’s social media pages and other platforms. Genuinely respond to feedback and comments and promptly answer questions by existing as well as potential customers.
- Ensure a smooth customer journey
Focus on delivering incredible customer experiences at each and every touchpoint to facilitate the spread of positive word-of-mouth.
- Convey your brand story
Use storytelling techniques to humanize your brand and strengthen its emotional connect with its target audience. Narrate your brand’s origin, journey, core values and show the human faces behind it.
- Be transparent & authentic
Transparency is key to building trust, so be honest about your brand’s intentions, practices as well as shortcomings, if any.
- Highlight user-generated content
Encourage your customers to share their experiences with your brand’s products/services through online as well as offline reviews and testimonials. And then reshare them through your official marketing channels. This helps formulate authentic social proof.
- Support social causes
Make your brand’s commitment to social responsibility very evident through CSR activities and an unwavering support for relevant causes.
- Manage your online reputation
Hire ORM executives to monitor what internet and social media users are saying about your brand in real time. And address major negative feedback proactively and promptly. Many social listening softwares are available online to help you do this efficiently.
- Collaborate with suitable influencers
Partner with influencers and brand ambassadors who align with your brand values and have followers who significantly overlap with your target audience.
- Maintain consistency in quality
Compromising on the quality of your products/services will always negatively impact your brand image. It is essential to keep your brand trust in good shape and consistently deliver the quality your customers expect from your business.
- Create memorable experiences
Curate compelling experiences that are relevant to your brand, through product launches, events or interactive campaigns. They etch a good brand image in your TG’s mind in the long run. Make use of AR technology to engage your customers in novel ways. Branded AR filters on instagram and snapchat are a great tool to positively interact with your audience. Pop Communications can help you engage with your audience using augmented reality in inspiring creative ways. Drop us a line at : [email protected] to discuss in detail.
- Stay relevant
Update your marketing strategy as per market trends, industry developments and customer preferences to stay relevant.
- Measure brand performance
Track metrics like customer satisfaction, customer loyalty and brand awareness to understand your brand image and how it evolves over time.
- Value Feedback
Actively seek customer feedback and gain valuable insights from it. Use it to upgrade your products/services as well as overall brand experience.
- Meaningful Associations
Participate in topical conversations, cultrual movements, sponsor events, charities, festivals, participate in building communities around the interests of your audience and that relate to your brand identity.
Rebranding: How to Change a Brand Image?
Rebranding is the partial or complete modification of a business’s brand identity in order to change its brand image. A change in brand image could be required because of the development of a poor or inappropriate brand image or major changes within the business itself. Rebranding may involve the modification or rebuilding of one or more of the elements that shape a brand identity.
Here are the steps to change your brand image:
- Reestablish the target audience and market of your business
Conduct an extensive market research, include focus groups and analyze your data to find out your actual target audience and competing businesses. Have a look at the demographics of the people who are actually buying from you as well as the people who have switched to buying from your competitors. After accurately reestablishing your market and target audience, you are ready to begin rebranding your business.
- Redefine your business’s mission, vision and values
While reevaluating your mission, vision and values, here are the 3 questions you need to ask yourself:
- What are you doing?
- How are you doing it?
- Why are you doing it?
It is easy to take the foundations of your messaging for granted, but they can change as your business grows.
- Rebuild your business’s brand identity
Alter or recraft one or more of the core elements of your business’s brand identity, according to what is working and what is not working. Some brands have even renamed their business when they’ve felt it’s very outdated, misleading, crafts a negative brand image or no longer suits their brand purpose. The latest most renowned case being facebook switching to the company name meta.
- Keep track of brand sentiment
After rebuilding your brand identity, it is important to receive feedback on it from members of your new target audience. Conducting focus groups and seeing if your new brand identity is making a desirable impression is key to deciding whether or not you need to head back to the drawing board.
- Plan and execute an impactful launch
It is important to effectively communicate your new brand story to your entire target audience when you launch your renewed brand. Do it by publishing marketing content on all consumer touchpoints including online and offline channels. Announce your renewed brand’s launch with a press release on your business’s website and posts on its social media pages. Briefly explain why your business needed a rebrand and what it means for your business’s future. Don’t alienate your customers, make them feel a part of the rebranding journey by keeping them briefed on all the behind the scene action, your reason for doing it and engaging them in the reveal.
Click here to read about the 10 most successful rebranding campaigns ever, according to Business Insider. They cover the best examples of brand identity as well as examples of brand image that completely matches with its corresponding brand identity.
Pop Communications is a full-service marketing agency with a core team that has over 2 decades of experience in nurturing brands. Reach us to create a powerful brand identity for a new business or for rebranding your existing brand to give it a facelift. Check out our brand identity design services and contact us to get the best of them.
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