Essays, Featured

The Difference Between Branding and Identity

I don’t often take on clients looking to do full on branding projects, but the topic has come up in conversation with one of my agency clients and I was surprised to see just how much confusion on this subject there really is. I think because we ourselves in the industry refer to Identity as branding and vice versa, we’ve managed to confuse ourselves at the same time that we confused the general public.

For Starters, what’s your logo?

When business owners and individuals think up a new business idea, one of the first things that they usually come up with is their name, followed closely by the logo. Sometimes, the logo will effect affect the name brand, although it more commonly happens the other way around. Logos are pretty easily understood by most customers, they know what they mean when they say they want a logo, and often client and agency are on the same page when this is brought. As the visual identifier that customers will associate with your brand, logos are an important aspect to the success of your business, and usually contain your business name, a graphical element, and a tagline, or any combination of those elements.

Now you have your name and logo, You can start to build your Identity.

When you start to use your logo, you’ll be implementing in various places from your business card to your Twitter profile, and all the choices that you make to go along with it that define your look – you choice of colors and fonts, the type and style or even placement of the images you use, your layout preferences and templates – all of these come together to create your visual identity. By consistently and strategically using these elements across all of the places where your company presents itself, a strong visual identity can be established, and customers will recognize your brand even if you don’t use your name and logo (Just think of T-mobile with all that Fuschia).

And here is where things get confused: the agencies and graphic designers of the world love to call this Branding, confusing the heck out of any non-designer (and even some actual designers) that may work with them.

Alright, now you can focus on your Branding

Branding actually refers to the way customers emotionally perceive your business. This includes everything from your name, the way you communicate with your targets, your customer service and so much more in addition to your visual identity. Branding doesn’t happen overnight. You want to make sure you and your designer are on the same page when discussing branding and identity, because branding takes time, and you’ll probably see it reflected in your contract, as a true branding package would require months of commitment, and what most agencies call branding is actually identity.

Hopefully, that was somewhat helpful and clears up a bit of the confusion floating around this topic.