Which One Is It: Brand, Branding or Brand Identity?

June 20, 2019

You’re feeling completely lost as you research how to get your business going and the questions are swirling. What makes a business a brand? And when do I know I have a brand? So do I need branding or a brand identity? Or are they the same thing? But are they different? So, let’s discuss. Which one is it: brand, branding or brand identity?

Unfortunately, these phrases are used interchangeably which can cause one to feel completely lost in the process as you are looking to partner with a designer or if you are going the DIY route. Let me break them down for you…

What one is it: Brand, branding or brand identity? Clarifying the difference and why each one matters over on the studio blog! #BrandIdentityDevelopment #BuildingABrand #BrandingInspiration


A brand is defined as a name, term, design or symbol that identifies one seller’s goods or service as distinct from those of other sellers. While the term is rather overused these days, I do think that over time the definition of “brand” has evolved. So what makes a business a brand?

The brand is the intangible part of a business. It’s the story you tell. It’s the emotional connection between you and your audience. It’s the promise you give and the service you deliver. It’s what your customers feel when they think of your business and product. It’s what they say about you. It’s everything combined together that cannot be measured in any physical form. When you are able to create an emotional reaction through your story, message and promise shared with your consumers in a powerful, positive and inspiring way? You have a brand.

A brand is a business who doesn’t just have customers. They have loyal followers. They have evangelists. And if you truly want to delve into this area, the most inspiring thing I can offer is Lovemarks by Kevin Roberts. This book completely re-wired my brain when it comes to how I serve my community.


Branding is the process and journey to everything that combines as your positioning within your niche market. This is both the intangible aspects that we discussed above as well as the tangible that I will get to in a minute.

Branding is your research and development to clarify your message. It’s the creation of your brand visuals from logo to packaging. It’s your marketing and messaging. Branding is your process of developing brand awareness. How are you going to stand out? What makes you unique? What are the recognizable and visual components? What are you delivering? All of this is figured out and strategized during the branding process.

Brand Identity

Now, your brand identity is the tangible part of it all and this is where I come in. Brand identity and the development of one is giving everything a visual. And these visuals are your touchpoints. It’s what consumers will use as the visual connection between your product or service and what they feel. It’s what they will physically interact with.

Your brand identity is your logo, your company tagline, it’s your online experience through your website and social media. It’s your color palette and fonts used throughout all marketing materials. It’s the imagery you share.

So let’s break a real one down so you can get a strong visual of the concepts above and what differentiates each one.

Let’s look at Abercrombie & Fitch.

Their brand drips with an all-American style. It’s about near-luxury. It’s classic. It’s stylish. It’s exclusive. When you hear Abercrombie you immediately picture the cool kids, decked out in polo shirts and cuffed jeans throwing around a football. Their brand is the immediate vibe you get when you hear the name.

Their brand identity is that iconic serif logo in navy blue. It’s the moose icon that makes an appearance on your shopping bag. It’s the scent that you enjoy while in their store. It’s their black and white campaign imagery that has an iconic and classic feel. It’s their social media graphics.

Now their branding? It was the process to create all of it and continue moving forward in their marketing efforts and the quality products and fashion they offer.

We could do this same exercise with Apple. With Nike. With Tommy Hilfiger. With Anthropologie.

The best thing you can do as you begin your journey in building your own brand is to study what you love about the brands you consume in your life. Why do you? What message do you connect with? What touchpoints make you feel excited to use, wear and purchase the products? Then take that research and apply it to your service and offering. How will it apply to your overall brand message?

And when you are ready to create a unique brand identity, a brand identity that will leave an impression amongst all of the others, you come and see me. We will create an iconic brand identity for your business that will give you confidence and clarity to do all the things you are meant to do.

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