Brand Identity

Definition: Brand identity is the set of unique visual characteristics that represent your company. This visual identity includes tangible elements, such as a logo, and intangible elements, like the organization’s personality.

How MarcomCentral Helps: MarcomCentral is a single source of truth for organizations to keep all up-to-date brand identity documentation and resources. With MarcomCentral, there is no brand identity confusion because everything your organization uses to represent your brand is pre-approved and available inside the platform.

Part of a larger branding strategy, a brand identity conveys important information about an organization, often implicitly. For example, blue and green tones in a brand logo might evoke a sense of calm and serenity. Every aspect of a brand’s identity should help customers build a positive association with the brand.

While the concept of branding has been around for hundreds of years, the birth of modern marketing in the 1950s revolutionized the way we think of brands. With a post-World War II economic boom, more people than ever had the financial ability to purchase consumer goods. New brands and products were popping up everywhere, and as television sets entered American homes, companies had a new medium to reach their customers.

This is when brand management as we know it today developed. Many companies were selling the same products and solutions, with similar pricing, so marketing teams needed to develop unique identities and selling points to go along with their brand names. Companies moved into emotional advertising, studying their audiences to understand how to evoke specific feelings in potential buyers.

Elements of Brand Identity

Several different elements of brand identity work in harmony to create cohesive messaging. These include:

  • Company name
  • Logo design
  • Color palette
  • Typography
  • Imagery

Your brand identity also includes your company’s mission and vision, as well as your values.

The Brand Identity Prism

The brand identity prism is a framework developed by Jean-Noël Kapferer, a French marketing professor and author of several books on brand management and strategy. Kapferer identified six key elements that companies should consider when developing their brand identity:

  • Physique: This is the physical characteristics of the brand, such as its colors, shapes, and logo.
  • Personality: This is often described as the brand’s voice or its human characteristics – if you imagine a brand as a living thing, its personality tells you how it would behave.
  • Culture: This is the set of values and norms that inform a brand’s identity.
  • Self-image: This is the way customers envision themselves when they buy a particular brand.
  • Reflection: This is how a brand portrays its target audience in its print and digital marketing materials. For example, a brand targeted at young families might show images of happy children playing together.
  • Relationship: This represents the connections between a brand and its customers. It includes the brand’s products and services, as well as intangible aspects like the emotions a brand evokes.

Why Is Brand Identity Important?

Branding might seem like an afterthought or a low-priority task, but it can have a major impact on your company’s success. Your brand is a reflection of your mission, vision, and values. The benefits of a strong brand include:

  • Trust: A great brand identity uses visual cues and messaging to tell customers they can trust your company.
  • Consistency: A cohesive brand personality conveys a sense of professionalism and lets your customers know that you are reliable.
  • Loyalty: If you have a strong, consistent brand, it’s easier to connect with customers and communicate your values. This helps you develop long-term relationships that lead to customer loyalty.
  • Memorability: Consistent use of your branding helps customers remember who you are and makes it more likely that they’ll choose you when they need a product or service.

Brand Identity: Examples of Real Companies

Although the concept of brand identity might seem nebulous, you’ve probably already seen it in practice many times. Think of iconic, well-known brands like Coca-Cola, Apple, McDonald’s, and Nike – you’d recognize their logos anywhere. Here are a couple of examples of what sets them apart:


cans of coca cola

Coca-Cola is found all over the world, and its branding is instantly recognizable. The well-known logo, the script font, and the bright red color are all intentional brand elements. Coca-Cola consistently uses emotional appeals in its branding, with taglines like “Share a Coke” or “The Real Thing.” The brand imagery evokes happiness, relaxation, and celebration.


Apple Store logo at the entrance to the Apple Store

Apple uses a simple, elegant logo, consistent across all their products, supporting brand recognition. While the color of the stylized apple has gone through changes over the years, the company has always stuck to the same imagery. Apple also distinguishes itself through its slogan: “Think Different.” In just two words, Apple positions itself as an innovator that is distinct from other technology companies.

How To Create a Brand Identity That Empowers Customer Trust

If you’re working on redesigning your brand – or want to launch a memorable brand identity for the first time – use these best practices to build customer trust:

  • Know your audience: Take time to research your target consumers and understand the unique value proposition you can offer them.
  • Define your brand values: What are your company’s mission, vision, and goals? Use these touchstones to guide your brand development.
  • Do your research: In addition to understanding your target audience, you also need to study your competition.
  • Develop your voice and visual elements: Define the key terms, imagery, brand colors, and typefaces that you want to use to communicate your identity.
  • Create a brand style guide: Document and share the final version of your brand identity and guidelines to ensure visual brand elements are applied consistently across your organization.

Common Hurdles When Building Brand Identity

Building a brand identity is not always straightforward, especially in industries that are rapidly changing. Some of the common branding hurdles that companies face can include:

Dealing With Competition

In a crowded marketplace, it can be hard to differentiate your company from your competitors. The way to overcome this challenge is to identify the things that make your company unique and communicate that through your brand identity. Do you provide a one-of-a-kind product? Offer personalized customer service? Use your branding to highlight these specific benefits.

Consistent Brand Usage

Communicating your brand identity consistently can be tough, especially if you’re working through a rebranding process. Think about all the places your brand is visible: on your website, social media channels, product packaging, and even on your company letterhead and business cards. To address this, create a clear set of branding guidelines and assets that are communicated throughout your company. Set an implementation timeline so all departments and teams have ample time and resources to transition to your new branding.

Asset Management

You’ll likely need many different iterations of your logo in different color schemes, sizes, arrangements, and file formats. Plus, you’ll need to keep track of the right fonts, background images, icons, and other branding elements. It’s easy for all these files to quickly become unwieldy on a shared drive. Digital asset management systems help keep all your brand elements organized and easily accessible.

Why Corporate Brand Identity Is Harder To Maintain

All companies can (and should) develop a brand identity, but it can be a unique challenge for corporations. Large corporations often have diverse product lines across several different industries. They may choose to use a house of brands model – promoting different sub-brands under the umbrella of a parent company. Or, they may maintain distinct branding for different product lines. When one company acquires smaller brands, it may choose this latter model – especially if the brand they take over already has a dedicated following or a strong identity.

Is Brand Identity the Same as Brand Image?

You may see the terms brand identity and brand image used interchangeably, but these are unique. A brand identity is created by a company. It uses the language, imagery, and style that the brand wants to convey.

In contrast, a brand image is what people think your brand represents – your brand image is your reputation and the impression you make on current and potential customers. In short, brand identity is the way you want customers to perceive you, and brand image is how you’re truly perceived. Ideally, your identity and image are closely aligned.

How Marketing Technology Is Changing Brand Identity

Many new technologies are making work easier for brand managers, graphic designers, and other marketing professionals. For example, usage analytics and insights draw on robust data to help brands better understand their customers’ interests and needs. This is especially true for marketing asset management platforms that have been continuously improved over the last few years, and these days offer all of the features you need to transition from Google Drive and take your company’s brand governance to the next level.

Harness The Power of Your Brand Identity

At Marcom, we understand the value of a strong brand identity. That’s why we make it easy for companies to create and maintain a clear, compelling brand identity. We offer an intuitive, user-friendly platform for managing digital brand assets. Marcom serves companies of all sizes, from small businesses and startups to established brands. And we work across a wide range of industries, including:


Ready to learn more about how Marcom can support your marketing strategy? Contact us today.


Related Terms:

Brand Management

is a group of activities that companies use to create nurture and promote their brand to potential customers to increase sales and market share.

Brand Guidelines

are rules that an organization uses to ensure brand consistency for a particular identity.

Brand Equity

is the commercial value that comes from having a well-known and well-respected brand.

Brand Consistency

is ensuring that all customer touchpoints have consistent brand experiences.


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