Brand vs brand identity vs logo and which do you need?

Easy-to-understand definitions to explain the difference between common branding terms. Learn the difference between a brand and a brand identity and how each of those are more than simply a logo!

There are lots of words out there to describe all sorts of different aspects of branding. Brand vision, brand equity, brand voice, brand values, brand message… With all the branding terms out there, it can get confusing pretty fast.

In this post, I’m going back to the basics and defining the key branding terms you should know as a business owner. That way, you can understand how each concept plays its part in building your business and which one you really need to focus on right now.

Branding term 1: Brand

The concise version is this: your brand is the perception that people have of your business. It’s how they feel about you. The impression they hold in their minds about what your business is all about.

I like to go a little further than this definition and think of a brand as the relationship you have with your audience. It’s how engaged they are with who you are and what you do. How connected they feel. Do they feel like your business is irreplaceable? If so, you’ve got a strong brand.

Branding term 2: Branding

Your brand doesn’t just appear out of nowhere. People need to become aware of your business before they can develop an opinion about it. If you want to nurture a certain opinion of your business, you’re going to need to be thoughtful about the way you conduct your business. This is what branding is — the tools and actions you use to create your brand.

Everything from the tone of voice you apply to your copywriting to the graphics you use on your website are going to influence the impression people have of your business, and therefore the kind of brand you build. It’s the marketing strategies you employ, and ultimately the overall experience you create for your clients and wider audience.

Related post: Why you need to design a great brand experience

Branding term 3: Brand identity

Your brand identity is an example of branding. Sometimes people use the two terms (“brand identity” and “branding”) interchangeably, but I don’t think that’s totally correct. “Branding” is a wider umbrella term, while “brand identity” refers specifically to the visual aspects of your brand. 

So, your brand identity describes the overall style that is applied to your business and all its collateral. It generally involves these things:

  • Logo
  • Colour palette
  • Typographic hierarchy
  • Image styling
  • Icons and other supportive graphics
  • Patterns and textures

These elements of your brand identity, along with the “rules” for how they should be formatted and applied to various touchpoints (such as your website, business cards, or marketing material) can be outlined in a style guide.

Branding term 4: Logo

Finally, we get to your logo, which as you may have noted is an element of your brand identity. Your logo is not your brand. It’s simply a way to identify your brand — a graphic mark to symbolise what your brand is all about. Your logo is a way for your audience to recognise your business and raise their awareness of you.

Want to learn more about different types of logos? Read more in this post: Which of the 7 types of logos to use for your business

So, what does your business need?

Well, all of them! But the order is what’s really important. Before you can decide what your logo looks like, you need to know how you want to develop your brand. Defining what you want your brand to be is the first step. How do you want people to feel about your business? What do you want your client relationships to be like?

From there, you can define the various aspects of your branding (the way you’re going to grow your brand). That’ll include the visual side of things, i.e. designing your brand identity, including your logo.

Confused about the difference between a brand and a brand identity? What does each one mean and how do they relate to your business? Read this to find out!Final thoughts

The main takeaway from this post is that your brand is far more than just your logo or the visual elements of your business.

Sometimes people will say that they want to “develop their brand”, but they what they’re really talking about is logo design. Part of the problem is the confusion around these different branding terms. The other part of the problem is simply not realising that developing a brand goes far deeper than the look of your business.

If you’d like to learn more about the steps to take before you get to logos and brand identity, check out my post on creating a brand strategy.

If you’re ready to start taking your branding up a level, get my Core Brand Pillars Workbook to be taken step-by-step through the important process of establishing what your brand is all about. It’s free!

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