What is brand identity? With real world examples.
As your mother has told you all your life, "The world would be boring if everybody was the same." Much like your own personal identity, each brand has its own identity.
Brand identity is what separates Pepsi and Coke even though they are essentially the same product (sorry folks, Pepsi is just better).
But if Pepsi and Coke are essentially the same product, what differentiates them from each other? The answer lies within brand identity.
So, let's find out what exactly is brand identity.
The Definition of Brand Identity
Defining brand identity begins by explaining some terms often associated with a brand identity. These are the terms brand and branding.
Brand, branding, and brand identity are often thrown around together but have slight differences among them that are important to note.
First is the misuse of brand and brand identity. A brand is an identifying symbol, mark, logo, name, word and/or sentence that companies use to distinguish their product from others.
On the other hand is branding.
Branding is the act of using consistent messaging and images through marketing campaigns.
Brand identity is a crossroads of both a brand and branding. It is the broader scope of all branding aspects.
The technical definition of brand identity, according to Investopedia, is defined as how a business presents itself to and wants to be perceived by, its consumers.
Think of any brand in the world. I would be willing to bet a certain thought or perception comes to your mind about that brand. That brand has made an enormous effort into making sure you thought that.
Porsche is a great example of brand identity. They are presenting themselves as luxury car brand and their customers are perceiving it that way. Their cars give off a certain lifestyle that people are buying into.
Brand identity has a lot of components to it but we will break down the most important aspects of it: logo, colors, typography, and verbiage. These are what most influences the consumer's perceived notion of that company.
Logo: Visualizing Your Brand
We are going to be comparing both Coke and Pepsi's brand identity throughout the rest of this post. We believe these two brands have some of the strongest brand identities in the world. No matter where you are in the world, you will know both of the products.
Your logo is at the heart of your brand identity. It is a visual representation of who you are as a company.
It is the simplest form of identifying your product or business.
“A logo is a flag, a signature, an escutcheon, a street sign. A logo does not sell (directly), it identifies. A logo is rarely a description of a business. A logo derives meaning from the quality of the thing it symbolizes, not the other way around. A logo is less important than the product it signifies; what it represents is more important than what it looks like."
Paul Rand summed it up really well with this famous quote
Both of the companies logos are textbook examples of brand identity. They are recognized worldwide and people instantly recognize what it is. Their logos tie together the rest of the brand's identity.
But the logo isn't the only thing take to make customers recognize Coke and Pepsi is it?
Let's dive a little deeper and see how colors and typography integrate into brand identity.
The colors all companies use are carefully selected. Every single aspect of brand identity has color in it.
From your logo to how you end up packaging your product, the colors you use are there for a certain reason.
The science and psychology behind color pallette in companies is really fascinating.
You will notice that both Pepsi and Coke use bold colors in their brand identities.
It is an attention grabber. In particular, red is very eye-catching to consumers.
This wonderful graphic by the Logo Company showcases some of the major brands in the world and their color choices.
The emotions they have paired up with the colors match up perfectly.
For example, look at the blue section. Blue is associated with dependability and trust.
Notice all the tech companies in there? IBM, Intel, Dell, WordPress, Dell, and HP all use blue in their brand identity.
These tech companies are able to convey a sense of trustworthiness simply through their use of color.
We also use blue throughout our own brand identity because well we are trustworthy and dependable, duh.
Here's a fun fact, Coke is so well associated with red that it has it's own color codes. Nobody else in the world can use Coca-Cola's specific shade of red.
Typography is another crucial element of brand identity.
For those who don't know, typography is the style and appearance of your printed or web matter.
There are a million fonts out there so picking the one you want to represent your brand is time-consuming.
Making your fonts work for your brand is considered by many an art form. Wikipedia even defines typography as "art and technique of arranging type to make written language legible, readable and appealing when displayed.
So you may be thinking, "Well, why can't I use any font I like?"
Well, let me show you examples of how typography effects a person's perception of your brand.
Example 1: Bad Typography Choice, Movie Flicks
Example 2: Good Typography Choice, IKEA
The first example is well... funny and sad at the same time. This was a real company in Florida that went out of business. Who would have guessed? Mega Flicks (come on people, let's keep it PG) is the prime example of how typography can crumble brand identity. Would you want to rent a movie from Mega Flicks? Of course not. How could you trust a company that has that awful typography in it?
The second example, IKEA, on the other hand, is a great use of typography to really tie together their identity of a brand.
IKEA makes bold, and modern furniture at a reasonable price. Their logo and typography make that evident. The font is as bold as some of the furniture they produce.
The task of choosing your typography for your brand identity should not be understated. You don't want to end up like Movie Flicks, right?
Imagery and Graphics
The final pieces of the brand identity puzzle we wanted to highlight are graphics and imagery.
The photos, graphics, and other imagery brands use say a lot about your brand.
These graphics and photos can be playful or powerful depending on what you want your customers to perceive your brand to be.
Let's bring back the idea of comparing your personal identity to brand identity.
Your personal choices in styling whether it be your shirt you picked out or your haircut, are like the images and graphics your brand uses.
People will see them and whether you like it or not, they will judge you.
Brand graphics and photos are found all throughout the brand's identity.
Let's look at some examples of imagery and graphics reinforcing brand identity.
Snack Fun's thumbprint is all over this ad promoting Snack Geister. You can see the use of the brand's colors intertwine with the spooky graphics in the ad and on the packaging itself. The design puts the fun in Snack Fun.
The next example is from Spot The Dot, a project started to raise awareness of melanoma. This is the more powerful side of imagery in brand identity. The image and graphics used in the awareness are part of their identity. Spot the Dot is bringing these powerful images to the eyes of people. They are presenting themselves as an organization that can help you recognize the signs of melanoma.
Creating and maintaining a memorable brand requires consistent use of type, color, images, and language, but it's worth it.
When consumers instantly recognize who you are and what you stand for all based on a logo, you've successfully created your brand identity.
These are just a few of the aspects of brand identity but we believe these are the most important parts of it.
Your business should have a unique identity that separates you from your competitors.