Identity is “the fact of being who or what a person or thing is”. Just like every person has an identity, every organisation has an identity too. We call this the organisation’s brand identity.
Many people confuse an organisation’s logo with its brand identity. In reality, brand identity is so much more than that. The logo is a part of the brand identity, but more accurately a logo is the identifiable mark of an organisation.
Parts of an organisation’s brand identity
We can break a brand identity down into the following parts:
The recognisable part of the brand
This is the physical aspects of a brand that makes it visually recognisable like the logo, packaging, the website, and social media platforms. It includes all the elements of visual design: fonts, colours, and images.
The personality of the brand
A brand’s personality is the way that it communicates with the public. This includes the tone and style of the language and images used for the type of person it wants to attract. For example, a brand might be playful or serious, adventurous or sophisticated, etc.
Cultural aspect of the brand
This refers to the connection between an organisation and the brand’s culture. It includes the ideas, customs, and social behaviour of the people or society a specific brand wants to target.
Each brand symbolises a certain type of relationship, for instance, the relationship between a mother and a child, or friendship in a community, etc.
Reflection of the consumer
An organisation will always have a very specific target audience that will be their “top” buyer, although they might have several other buyer personas. Its brand identity will be a reflection of its “top” buyers.
The image of the consumer
When a consumer can identify with an organisation’s brand identity, they will be much more likely to buy from it. Whether a consumer sees himself as strong and athletic, or sees herself as tough but elegant, brands that convey those identities will be most attractive to these consumers.
Who decides what the brand identity is?
To answer this question, it is important to distinguish between brand, branding, and brand identity.
Brand is the perception people have of an organisation.
Branding is the active shaping of a brand through marketing.
Brand identity is all the visual elements that an organisation creates, working together to form an image in the mind of the consumer.
Elements that form part of an organisation’s brand identity include:
- Logo: The mark that represents the organisation’s brand as a whole
- Stationery: Includes the letterhead and business cards
- Marketing Collateral: Flyers, brochures, online advertising
- Products and packaging: The physical packaging a consumer will buy the product in
- Apparel: Clothing employees wear
- Messages and actions: How communication is carried across
The designer, with the help of the copywriter, form the foundation of the brand identity, but cannot decide what the brand will be. An organisation’s brand has everything to do with how it is perceived by the public; its values are just as much a part of its identity as the colours and images it uses.
So, in short, brand identity is the image a company intends to portray with its visuals and values. Whether we see it like they want us to, is entirely up to us.