• Lacey Nguyen

Brand identity vs brand image

1.What is brand identity?

The simple definition of brand identity is how you want the market to perceive your product or brand.

Brand identity includes elements like colors, design, logo, name, symbol and tagline. But it also involves intangibles such as thinking, feelings, and expectations.

It takes time and patience to develop an effective brand identity. However, if done well it is certainly worth the effort.

Brand identity is a separate category from brand image.

2.Brand Identity vs Brand Image

Brand image is the current view of the customers about a brand. It can be defined as a unique bundle of associations within the minds of target customers. It signifies what the brand presently stands for. It is a set of beliefs held about a specific brand. In short, it is nothing but the consumers’ perception about the product. It is the manner in which a specific brand is positioned in the market. The brand image conveys emotional value and not just a mental image.

Focus on shaping your brand identity, brand image will follow.

3. The relationship between Brand Identity and Brand Image?

Brand Identity and Brand Image has a very close relationship. The better the brand image, the higher sales can achieve.  Companies have to work hard on the consumer experience to make sure that what customers see and think is what they want them to see and think. The success of a company depends on the image it reflects from the market.

The level of awareness and recognition of the company's products. Without recognition, there would be no image. Therefore, a company may enjoy a good image even if it is recognized by a small group of people.

In the expectation world, there must be no gap between what the company promises (brand identity) and what it ultimately delivers to the customers and customer's expectations (brand image).

Obviously, this is not an expectation world, sometimes the brand image is hurt by external or internal factors. Therefore, the brand image is being lead far away from the brand identity that company is trying to create.

For example, when I (personally) think of McDonals's brand image, I think of "unhealthy", "obesity", "fast food", which I am sure is a far cry from how they think of their brand image and how they want people to identify with their brand. McDonald's wants us to perceive their brand as "fast", "convenient", "family oriented", and even "fun".

Or the Volkswagen emissions scandal (18 September 2015) when the United  States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a notice of violation of the Clean Air Act to German automaker Volkswagen Group after it was found that Volkswagen had intentionally programmed turbocharged direct injection (TDI) diesel engines to active certain emissions controls only during laboratory emissions testing. After the scandal, the brand image of Volkswagen was damaged badly.


Honest advertising

4. Different Brand Identity models

There are 7 models for branding:

Aaker (Brand identity)

Kunde (Brand religion)


Gad (Four dimensions)

Ind (Internal branding)


Knapp (Brand mindset)

5. How visual elements support Brand Identity?

There are 5 visual elements support Brand Identity: Brand name, Style, Logo, Color, Typography

  • Brand name

Even though naming isn't technically part of the visual design process of brand identity, the brand name should still be considered a visual element. A strong brand name shouldn't just sound right and be easy to pronounce; it should look right too.

The photo below shows the meaning under the name of some famous brand. If you are interested, please check out the link below:

35 famous brand names

Also, LEGO is a good example of how the brand name can change the attitude. Lego company starts from Ole Kirk carpentry workshop. 1932, the workshop started producing wooden toys. Until 1934, the toys did not sell as quickly as they expected. The owner considered that they need a good name for the company. Ole wanted to convey the meaning PLAY WELL and in Danish it means "Led Godt". The brand name should be short, easy to remember and easy to read. Therefore, he came up with the idea "LEGO". However, in the future, Lego in Latin means "I put together". Maybe there was a sign for the company?

Video of Lego's story

  • Create a consistent visual style

All of the brand elements should follow a consistent visual style throughout. If, for example, a decision is made to design a brand identity that is visually romantic and endearing, then this style should be applied to all visual elements. Exceptions can be made for advertising campaigns, but the overall brand identity should always be uniform.

For example, SPOTIFY

They want to create a brand image of EASY, PERSONAL and FUN. The logo can change a little bit of color in different projects (website, apps, flyers, invoice. etc.) but they always switch between green, white and black. SPOTIFY stated in their Brand Identity Guidelines:

"Our brand identity is made up of a number of elements. The image we use, the colors we choose, our icons, our words, and so on. Each has a specific role to play, but the real magic happens when they're all used together"

They use same fonts on all type of products: Proxima Nova (Bold and Regular). The tone of voice in their instructions: Easy (effortless, intuitive, and straightforward); Personal (Informal, friendly, and warm); Fun (Playful, with a hint of irreverence)

The brand identity guidelines from SPOTIFY

Brand Identity Guidelines

  • Develop a compelling logo

The logo is the flagship image of any brand. Logos can quickly speak volumes about your business, your mission and what services you offer. An enterprise without a logo has no chance of making an impact on its target audience. The logo is the most essential and valuable visual element of your brand, so keep this in mind when allocating your branding budget and hiring professionals.


In my own opinion, the logo should be easy to remember, to recognize but also it takes time and money to have a suitable logo after all.

CASE: Amazon

The Amazon logo looks fairly simple at first glance. The company’s name, Amazon.com, in bold black lettering with a simple yellow line curving underneath. But what does that arrow represent? It’s intended to be two things. It represents the smile customers should find on their faces after a great Amazon experience. The position of the yellow line forms a visible smile with each “a” in the word acting as the eyes.

The yellow line is also an arrow, beginning at the first “a” and spanning over to “z”. This signifies the diversity among Amazon’s products—“everything from ‘a’ to ‘z’ “—as well as denoting a link to the diversity in the Amazon forest itself. At one point this logo was animated with the yellow arrow beginning at the “A” and slowly growing out towards the “z”, but it was later changed for being too phallic.


The Pepsi logo is a simple circle. The top half is red, the bottom half is blue, and a wavy white line runs through the center. The colors intentionally represent the American flag, but that’s just scratching the surface of this simple globe. Pepsi spent hundreds of millions on their current logo, which is very similar to their previous ones, but tweaked in a way that it (apparently) means a lot more.

When submitting the new logo, the branding agency hired by Pepsi presented a 27-page document explaining the many, many connotations their design represented. According to this document the new logo represents the Earth’s magnetic field, feng shui, Pythagoras, geodynamics, the theory of relativity, and plenty more


  • Pay attention to color

Colors can play an integral role in brand recognition and brand loyalty. They influence our emotions and help us distinguish between competing brands. Having acknowledged this, considerable research should be carried out before deciding on a final brand color or palette. Cadbury’s, the UK based confectionery producer, considers their own brand color so important to their identity that they went as far as copyrighting their "Cadbury Purple," or Pantone 2685C as it is more commonly known.

Also, sometimes, the color of the brand reveals the characteristic of the company.

  • Select appropriate typography

Typography concerns the style and appearance of any lettering or fonts used as part of your visual brand identity. These characteristics can have a significant influence over people’s purchasing decisions and help to further emphasize the message of your brand. Typeface and font choice can affect whether the right message is being communicated and these should conform to the overall visual brand style. Wrong choices can be disastrous, for example, a playful font such as the ever-popular Comic Sans would not be suitable for a serious brand image.

This link is the list of some famous fonts and how to use them in branding:

Build Your Brand: How to Choose The Right Fonts