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Brand Identity vs Visual Identity

Branding is a part of the marketing mix that can pay dividends when done well. We can't emphasize the power of a strong brand enough, as it can form the basis of a multi-year, if not multi-decade, marketing strategy.

What is Brand Identity?

Brand Identity refers to the essence of a brand, including its:

  • Mission

  • Purpose

  • Values

  • Voice

You can think of brand identity as the building blocks that form to create various representations of the brand. Versatile and modular, you can combine brand identity elements to tell a distinctive and differentiated story.

When it's well-executed, brand identity can produce excellent marketing outcomes, including:

  • Differentiation

  • Recognition/familiarity

  • Loyalty

To bring a brand identity to life, marketers will create various representations of a brand in the form of imagery, text, graphics, videos and more that tell the story of a brand and its customers in many ways—this is where visual identity comes into play.

What Is Visual Identity?

As the name suggests, visual identity is the brand's visual representation—it's the part of the brand that you can see. Visual identity consists of many elements, including:

  • Logo: reflects brand values and personality

  • Colour Palette: evokes emotion and aligns with the brand story

  • Fonts/Typography: aligns with the desired brand perception (an elegant or traditional typeface over a casual sanserif, for example)

  • Brand Style Guide: establishes guidelines for imagery, graphics, fonts, colours and logo versions

The objective of visual identity is to be both distinctive and cohesive. One measure of branding effectiveness is the degree to which a visual identity is memorable. For example, think of some of the world's top brands—Apple, Coca-Cola, Nike. Over many decades, these companies have used branding to carefully shape customer perceptions in their favour, leading to substantial business growth.

Visual elements must be eye-catching, attention-grabbing, and appealing to their audience. Achieving these objectives requires an investment in brand elements to have a professional, polished, and differentiated appearance—so you set yourself apart from your competitors for the right reasons.

Creating Brand Recognition

Building familiarity over time requires a strong visual identity. Combining visual elements such as logos, imagery, colours, and fonts with a repeat exposure strategy produces brand recognition.

Usage of these elements must be consistent across all platforms and touchpoints, leading to a cohesive look, feel, and voice. By investing strongly in visual identity, a brand can stand out in a sea of competition and occupy a unique and differentiated space in the customer's mind.

Conveying Brand Personality

Each brand will need to determine how to echo its personality. For instance, casual and playful visuals may express creativity and youthfulness, whereas clean and authoritative design elements may convey a professional, sophisticated appearance.

Include Brand Identity and Visual Identity in Your Strategy

Although similar in many ways, brand and visual identities are two distinct branding aspects. Each contributes to the effectiveness of the other to tell a cohesive and differentiated story.

Doing the work to define who you are and what you're about as an organization will help you nail down your branding and build trust and familiarity with your audience.

If your organization needs some help with your branding strategy, get in touch with our team.

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