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Updated on October 11, 2023.
Thorny subject in sight!
What is the difference between a brand image and a visual identity?
Aren't they the same thing? 🧐
You should know that appearances are often deceiving in the world of branding.
Let's go on an adventure and set the record straight on these two terms.
Get ready. It's going to shake!
Visual identity: definition
Your brand's visual identity will generally be the first thing anyone sees. It must therefore be impactful, recognizable, and memorable.
For example, do you recognize the brands behind these images?
Copyright : Mental Breakdown
Yes? Then it's a job well done.
A visual identity is a set of symbols and visual codes that identify the same entity, regardless of the communication channels.
It allows a brand to graphically express what it is at its heart (its vision, its values, its ambitions, ...). This can be done through colors, signs, and particular forms.
A visual identity must be able to be declined on all the supports your brand will evolve (for example, print, web, mobile app, etc.).
It allows you to correctly identify your brand at any time, place, and on the media of your choice.
A visual identity is generally codified in several documents, such as a graphic charter and brand guidelines.
These documents ensure the homogeneity of the brand within your visuals. They describe, for example, the rules for representing a logo or the colors to use and their context of use.
A visual identity is a set of rules that allow you to make certain parts of your brand image graphically consistent.
These rules are condensed into several documents:
to document the graphic evolution of the brand
to allow communicators to convey a coherent brand message
Your visual identity must be developed with great care. It must necessarily flow from a brand strategy to allow you to achieve the best possible results.
Your visual identity is one of the critical elements of your future communication materials and marketing campaigns. That's why it's not meant to please you personally. But to satisfy the community and the market you want to reach.
But what is a brand image?
Brand image: definition
Although they are often confused, a brand image differs from a visual identity.
Indeed, a brand image is a representation that the consumer has of your brand, company, products, and services.
Not only does this representation not belong to you, but it is not solely visual.
This representation results from the interactions an individual has experienced with your brand. This perception is specific and left to each individual's interpretation.
Your only option is to take care of each of the experiences provided by your brand!
This perception is composed of so-called objective and subjective parameters:
"This is a high-quality product!"
"This company is committed to the environment."
"This is an old brand..."
"I don't like the packaging."
The perception of a brand is similar to our perception of an individual and their personality.
When you meet a new person, you have two options:
You know nothing about them and judge them as you interact with them.
You already have positive and/or negative preconceived ideas about this person based on what you have heard/seen of them before (for example, by talking with your friends).
Fortunately, these preconceptions are not set in stone. As with any social relationship, you can turn things around. You can change your image.
Well-constructed messages addressed to a targeted audience can recreate a positive brand image. This is how branding and advertising are combined to influence public perception.
You can see that your brand image is influenced by all your marketing campaigns (see the symbiosis of branding and marketing on the previous page).
Brand image and awareness
We have noticed that specific terms can sometimes be confusing when we talk to our clients.
Brand image is different from brand awareness. Although these two terms often go together, they do not mean the same thing:
A brand image is a representation your audience has of your brand.
Brand awareness is the reputation of your brand.
Brand image in a nutshell
Brand image is the representation that the public has of all the elements composing the global communication of your brand to the outside world. A brand image includes the idea of a name, a logo, a visual identity, a sound identity [...], and all the communication campaigns of a brand.
How to build a brand image?
A brand experience is an overall experience your audience gets through multiple interactions at touch points that your brand chooses.
These different touch points will bring together some of your brand's distinguishing features:
A name to identify your brand, company, or products/services.
A logo to recognize your brand on any medium.
A graphic universe to instantly recognize your brand (colors, typography, etc.).
Distinctive shapes like the design of an Orangina or Coca-Cola bottle.
Sounds like the audio signature of the Intel brand.
Your brand addresses human beings (at least for now 🤖 ). Therefore, you must touch their five senses to create an unforgettable experience.
Humans are a species governed by emotions (see branding and emotions). Know how to touch them to become unforgettable and build a good brand image.
Develop your brand image
Okay, branding is more complex than I thought!
Don't worry. This is just the beginning of the guide.
Now that we're on the same page about defining a solid brand image. How do we develop it?
There are a lot of levers to develop your brand image, and it would only be possible to detail some of them in this introduction page.
However, in the following chapters, we will detail the ones that will form the solid foundation of your brand image.
Complete all steps or lose your feathers (and money).
1. Establish a brand strategy
How can you communicate about your brand if you don't understand its soul?
This is where branding comes in. A good brand strategy will help you articulate your mission, vision, ambitions, values, etc.
You will then be able to define and develop your corporate culture in the right direction.
You can then convey the right message to your community and collaborators.
2. Find your market positioning
Now you know your brand inside out, thanks to your brand strategy.
You need to position yourself in your market.
A well-executed brand positioning will allow you to differentiate yourself from the crowd.
You have two options: become #1 or be the first in your niche.
A precise, coherent, and assertive positioning is essential to make your brand shine. You will be able to convey the right message to the right audience only if your brand strategy and positioning are well aligned.
3. Adopt a unique visual identity
Your visual identity is an essential part of your brand image. It is this identity that will make you recognizable anywhere.
Your identity should be based on your brand strategy and positioning.
There will be no dissonance between the image you project, the tone you use to communicate, and who you really are.
4. Deliver a consistent message
The core of your marketing actions should be your branding.
Be consistent in your campaigns to bring a logical emotional structure to your image.
Share your expertise
Bring value to your audience
Help your community come together
Internet branding is an ongoing process where customers communicate and share their experiences and feelings about your brand.
5. Bonus: Tell your story
Remember, you want to reach emotional beings.
Your audience wants to know about the people behind your brand. It will be easier for them to relate to you and join your community.
NB: Nothing will ever replace human interaction. Show yourself in public.
The 21st century is a fascinating time. The channels of distribution have multiplied since the arrival of the internet.
It has never been easier to convey an image. However, it has never been that challenging to establish a brand image.
Here is a non-exhaustive list of channels that allow you to convey your brand image:
Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, TikTok, Twitch, ...
The list is very long. It is important to remember that these are tools. The most important things are not the channels. It's what you do with them!
Do things in the correct order
Don't rush through the steps
Avoid spreading yourself too thinly over a thousand different channels
Your new motto: FOCUS.
Manage your brand image
There is no secret. A brand image that is positively received by its audience is the best asset for your long-term success.
Creating and evolving your brand strategy is a complex and time-consuming task that can be done internally or outsourced to qualified experts.
However, there is a significant advantage to having an external provider do this work: taking a step back and putting it into perspective.
An outside look at your brand can change everything.
Taking a fresh, neutral look at your brand gives you the best chance of success. It will allow you to focus on your core business while preventing your ego from playing tricks on your brand image.
An external provider will ensure that a dangerous gap is not created between your strategy, positioning, and brand identity. By aligning these three aspects, you will communicate a coherent image.
Measuring the impact of your brand image
How do you measure the impact of your image on its audience?
It is crucial to continuously collect and analyze opinions about your brand image. This will allow you to orient your communication strategies to match your brand's image with what it is at the core.
Different methods allow you to better understand the image sent by your brand.
The quickest way to get answers is to ask the people who are best placed to answer: your customers.
What do they think of your brand?
How did they hear about you?
By word of mouth?
Through which communication media?
Customer feedback (positive or negative) will also help you ensure that the promises made by your brand are kept.
This valuable data will allow you to learn more about how your target audience perceives your brand.
Quantitative and qualitative studies
Conducting studies on panels of targeted people profiles will allow you to study the impact of your brand on consumers (brand awareness, satisfaction, feedback...).
See a little better what brand image is?
More complex than you thought, isn't it?
We hope you see it a little clearer 😎.
Now we'll explain the importance of developing a brand strategy, the essential foundation of your branding.
We hope you've enjoyed this chapter.
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Our only ask is that you take a quick second to share it with someone you like.
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