Brand Identity vs Brand Image: What's The Difference?
Have you ever wondered what sets your favourite brands apart from their competitors? Why are some brands able to attract loyal customers, while others struggle to generate interest in their products?
Or maybe you’re a brand owner struggling to answer the question “Why can't my business stand out amongst the competition?”
The answer to these questions can be found in two key concepts — brand identity and brand image.
While the terms brand identity and brand image are often confused, they are actually distinctly different – and understanding the difference can help you build a more powerful brand that resonates with your target audience.
In this blog post, we will explore both brand image and brand identity, the key differences between the two and provide B2B examples to illustrate the concepts.
So, let’s start with some basics.
What is the definition of brand identity?
Brand identity comprises all the visible elements of your brand that make your brand unique.
It is the DNA of your brand and includes elements like your company's logo, typography, colour palette, tone of voice, mission statement, and values.
Your brand identity is how you present yourself to your target market, making it essential to align with your target customers' values, desires, and preferences.
In B2B marketing, brand identity often focuses on establishing credibility, authority, and trust within a specific niche. Take, for example, HubSpot, a marketing and sales software provider.
They have developed a strong brand identity by positioning themselves as thought leaders in the marketing industry. From their distinctive orange brand colour to their free content marketing tools, blog, and social media presence, every aspect of their brand identity reinforces their commitment to helping their target market grow better.
Here’s how HubSpot defines brand identity:
What is the definition of brand image?
Brand image refers to the perception customers have of your brand.
Your brand image represents how your brand is perceived, remembered and evaluated in the marketplace. It is shaped by various factors, including customer experiences, marketing campaigns, and media coverage.
In a B2B marketing strategy, a company’s brand image is essential because it influences the decision-making process of business clients. A positive brand image makes it easier to gain new customers, create brand loyalty, and enjoy repeat business.
For example, Salesforce, a customer relationship management (CRM) software provider, has a strong brand image in the B2B space.
They are known for being a highly reliable, secure, and scalable platform for businesses of all sizes. Their brand’s image is reinforced by their use of customer success stories, video testimonials, and their commitment to innovation.
Plus, their dedicated Salesforce Brand Central is a great way to build on their digital brand image.
Brand identity vs brand image: what’s the difference?
The core difference between a brand’s identity and image is that identity is what the brand aspires to be, while the image is what it is perceived to be. However, there’s truly a world of difference between these two branding concepts.
Brand image encompasses all the external perceptions of a brand, including customer experiences, media coverage, and even what other people say about it. Brand identity is more focused on how you actively shape your own brand.
A good brand image can make or break a brand, defining the core brand associations and interpretations made in the eye of your audience. Whereas, your brand identity defines the foundation of your brand and encompasses all the tangible elements that make it unique.
Looking to transform your brand identity and image? Brief us today, thank us later.
Key differences between brand identity and brand image
To help you understand the true difference between brand identity and brand image, here’s a table of the key differences:
Creating a consistent look and feel for your brand
How your brand is perceived by your target market
Brand owner's control
Influenced by various external factors like customer experiences and perceptions
To establish and communicate the brand’s personality
To establish an emotional connection with target customers
Must remain consistent across all channels
Not constant or static, but changes over time
Has tangible elements such as logo, typography, colour, and design
Less tangible, based on abstract concepts and emotions
Helps to communicate what the brand stands for and what it offers to its audience
Helps to communicate with the audience on an emotional level, creating positive associations
The audience's understanding and recognition of the brand identity
The audience's interpretation and feeling towards the brand
Should remain timeless and relevant over time
May change with external factors such as social trends, economic conditions, and customer feedback
Alignment with Values
Should align with the target market's values, preferences, and goals
Should align with the target market's current perceptions, lifestyle, and behaviors
Impact on Sales
Can affect sales by inspiring recognition, trust, and brand loyalty
Can significantly affect sales making customers choose their brand over others, based on their perception and feeling towards the brand
Why is understanding the difference important? Why bother?
Understanding the difference between brand image and brand identity is critical for building a strong and successful B2B brand. The identity serves as your brand positioning, messaging, and communication strategy. Without a solid foundation of identity, organisations struggle to create a reputable brand with a passionate following.
By focusing on your brand identity, you get to define who you are, your purpose, values, and mission statement. These foundational components, in turn, direct all of your business and marketing decisions. As such, building up the brand image is smoother.
Building a solid brand image takes time, effort, ongoing review, and engagement with your target audience. Your brand image is constantly being shaped by how you present yourself and how you look across all your channels – from your social media handles to your packaging design. It is an evolving appendage to the personality of your brand.
TL;DR: Understanding the difference between these two concepts can help you learn how to use them together effectively.
Why are both crucial for B2B businesses?
Developing a solid brand identity and brand image is essential for B2B businesses because it helps generate interest in their products or services. A strong brand identity creates a powerful impression and enhances perceived value.
A positive brand image establishes trust, inspires confidence, increases customer retention and loyalty. B2B brands that invest in developing their brand identity and image can enjoy a greater competitive advantage while avoiding a disjointed or weak presence in the market.
So, there you have it – the difference between brand identity and brand image. The brand identity is the foundation, personality, and voice of the brand while the brand image is the perception formed in the minds of customers. Both work in tandem to create a brand's reputation, credibility, and recognition.
By developing a robust brand identity and consistently executing marketing strategies and campaigns, a brand can create a positive image in customer's minds, influence consumer behaviour, and foster a loyal customer base.
It’s vital that you take the time to establish your brand identity, and then use this identity to curate opportunities and generate experiences that will foster a positive brand image.
Transform your brand identity and image with Huddle
At Huddle, we understand the importance of developing a powerful brand identity and image.
We work with B2B businesses to create a striking identity, including logo design, website and brand development, and copywriting, as well as crafting engaging digital content that drives your brand’s growth.
Our branding specialists work closely with you to create an effective strategy that transforms your brand identity and image, resulting in a powerful presence in the market. With our expertise and creative flare, we help you turn your vision into reality.
Brief us today and find out how we can help you develop a strong brand identity and enhance your brand image.