The Complete Guide to Branding vs. Visual Identity
When creating a successful business, having a strong Brand Personality is essential. But what is branding, and what makes up a brand? What is visual identity, and how does it differ from branding?
This article will explore the differences between branding and visual identity and explain each concept in detail. We will also provide examples of businesses that have succeeded with solid branding and visual identities.
What is branding, and what does it involve?
Branding is the use of a name, term, design, symbol, or other feature to identify a product or service and distinguish it from those of other producers. Branding comprises many factors, which can also be why some businesses decide to hire a brand strategist.
A brand can be composed of many different elements, including:
The name of the company or product
Even the name of the company is part of branding. For example, Apple is instantly recognizable because of its strong brand.
Names like Kleenex, Google, and Samsung are also well-known brands.
The typeface or font used in marketing materials
Yes, even the typeface can be a distinguishing factor for a brand! For example, Coca-Cola has used the same typeface since 1887. This continuity helps customers recognize and trust the brand.
Colors and color schemes
You might not have noticed, but even the color schemes businesses use are part of their branding. Starbucks, for example, use a dark green and white color scheme in its marketing materials.
This green color is often associated with the color of money, which can help to subconsciously convey the message that Starbucks is a luxurious, premium brand.
Images, photos, and graphics
Images and graphics such as logos can also be vital in branding. For example, the Nike swoosh is instantly recognizable and associated with athleticism and quality.
Voice and tone of marketing materials
If a company wants its branding to be fun and bubbly, the tone and voice of its marketing materials will reflect that.
If a company wants to appear more sophisticated or luxurious, the tone and voice will be different. Examples of this are Apple's ads, which often use a soft, calming voice, or Audi's ads, which use a more no-nonsense and powerful tone.
Taglines and slogans
Are you familiar with the slogan "Just Do It"? Yup, that's the slogan for Nike. Taglines and slogans are another critical part of branding.
How does the packaging of a product look? Is it sleek and modern, or more playful and colorful? The design of the packaging is also part of branding.
What are some other elements that can be included in branding?
In addition to the items listed above, here are some other things that can be included in branding:
- The mission or purpose of the company
- The values of the company
- What sets the company apart from its competitors
- How the company wants customers to feel when they use its products or services
For example, the brand Patagonia is known for its commitment to sustainability. Its mission is "to build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, and use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis."
Its values include being environmentally responsible, using recycled materials in its products, and providing employees fair wages and working conditions.
Patagonia also sets itself apart from its competitors by emphasizing that quality of life is more important than quantity.
What is visual identity?
Visual identity, also known as graphic design, is the use of visuals such as logos, typefaces, color schemes, and images to create a unique look for a company or product.
It can be used to create a specific look across all marketing materials, from websites to social media posts to print ads. Here is a more in-depth look into what visual identity is all about:
Graphics and imagery
Graphics and imagery are an essential part of a company's visual identity. They can include the logo, photos, illustrations, and icons.
For example, the Nike swoosh is an instantly recognizable graphic that is often used on its own to represent the brand.
The typeface or font
While it's a part of branding, the typeface is another essential visual identity element. The particular typeface should be used in all marketing materials.
Colors are a compelling device in visual identity. They can be used to create a specific mood or feeling, convey a message, or make a brand more recognizable.
For example, the color red represents energy and excitement, while blue is often used to represent trust and stability.
In fact, the Google logo is primarily blue because the company wants to be seen as trustworthy and reliable.
Layout and composition
The layout and composition of visuals can also be necessary for visual identity. For example, if a company wants its materials to look more modern, it might use clean lines and simple shapes in its graphics.
If a company wants its materials to look more traditional, it might use ornate fonts and complex graphics.
Web and digital design
Visual identity also extends to designing a company's website and digital materials. Remember that a company's website is often the first place potential customers will go to learn more about the company.
Therefore, it's imperative that the website is well-designed and uniform with the rest of the company's branding.
Visual Identity and Advertising
Advertising is primarily where visual identity shines. This is because it's a great way to grab attention and make a lasting impression.
Some examples of visual identity in advertising are Apple's use of white space and minimalist design or Pepsi's use of blue and dynamic graphics.
What is the purpose of having a visual identity?
The purpose of having a visual identity is to create a unique and constant look for your company or product. This will help customers remember you, and it will also make your company stand out from the competition.
Tips to designing an excellent visual identity
Here are a few tips for designing an excellent visual identity:
- Your brand identity should be definite and certain
- Your visual identity should tell a story
- Choose colors and graphics that represent your company or product accurately
- Think about the mood you want to create with your visuals
- Keep your layout and composition simple and clean
What is the difference between branding and visual identity?
Branding and visual identity are not precisely the same thing. Branding is more about creating a unique name, look, and feel for a company or product. It includes all elements listed above, from the typeface to the colors to the images used in marketing materials.
On the other hand, visual identity is merely one aspect of branding. It focuses on the graphics and visuals aspect, such as logos and packaging design.
Think of it this way: if branding is the big picture, then visual identity is one of the smaller pieces that make up that picture.
They work together to create a unique and recognizable look for a company or product.
Now that you know what branding and visual identity are, it's time to put them into practice! If you're unsure where to start, consider working with a professional branding or design agency. They can help you create a solid and cohesive brand that will resonate with your target audience.