The concept of branding was born in the course of the evolution of the “business process”. During the next phase of evolution, however, emerged the concept of corporate identity. Although often, the two terms—branding and corporate identity—are used interchangeably, they are two different concepts.
What is branding?
To define what branding is, we need to start with the definition of a brand. What is a brand?
A brand was defined as a person’s gut feeling about a product, service, or company by Marty Neumeier in his famous book The Brand Gap.
Marty further says that a brand is a gut feeling because people are emotional, and intuitive and make a lot of emotional decision most of the time. So a brand is that feeling people have about your company, product, or service.
Branding is the process of creating that emotional connection and relationship between the company, product or service and the intended audience. Branding is not just about the visual components of a brand. It goes beyond that.
Branding is about a brand’s purpose, core message and how they are to be perceived. This is done through brand strategy, differentiation, positioning, core message framework and visual language.
What is the difference between branding and corporate identity?
While branding can be defined as relating to the emotional relationship between a customer and a business, the corporate identity is all about the look and feel of the business. The latter helps a customer to distinguish his favorite brand from the crowd of other businesses.
A corporate identity can be made up of the following elements:
- Brand name
- Primary logo design
- Secondary logo mark
- Corporate color palette
- Brand typography
- Matching stationery design including business card, letterhead and envelope design
- Invoices and other documents
- Signs and other touch points
- Brand style guide or brand manual
The brand name evokes an emotion of trust and reliability, whereas a strong brand identity speaks of the product’s individual quality, its ethics, and its focus. Two concepts are however interrelated; when the product is able to establish its unique identity, it is recognized as a brand.
When we think of the identity of a company the first thing that crosses our mind is the custom logo design. The logo is the unique icon that represents the company in the market, helps convey its business message to the customers and ultimately helps sell the product and services to them.
A custom logo can take your business far and accordingly, you should be prepared to invest time and money into creating a professional logo design and brand guideline. However, creating a brand is not so simple.
Reflecting the essence of business and brand personality through the logo: An experienced logo designer knows the main areas of focus such as the target customers, the business goal of the company, the positive attributes of the company and so on. The designer creates the visual identity of the company by combining all these factors into a single graphics (if possible).
To communicate this essence to the target audience, the designer uses a number of tools like font, color and/or symbols. For example, in order to make a logo for a bank, you should not add images of bank checks, the factor you should emphasize is the stability and trustworthiness of the bank.
Just go through some of the leading banks of the world like Citibank, Standard Chartered, etc and you will find how subtle use of color and simple typeface have beautifully incorporated this feel of reliability and consistency in their visual branding. Visual elements are quite often thought to be the brand but as we saw above, that is not the case at all. You could have stunning corporate design elements but brand message may not be appealing to the customer personas. This will create a disconnect.
Lastly, creating an identity is not all; the logo is a part of a volatile business environment where things change constantly. Identity creation becomes a constant process. If a particular logo fails to bond with the customers in a satisfactory way, then consider a complete makeover of the logo to align brand identity and brand image.
Corporate design can also include other elements such as employee manuals, internal memos, the corporate culture manifest and more.