Brand, Branding, Brand Identity, Brand Strategy, Brand, Brand, Logo, Visual Identity, Coordinated Image. It is time to shed light on all these terms, which are often confused or used as synonyms (some are), and to explain their meaning.
In this guide, I really want to offer a sort of “vocabulary” of the main terms used when talking about the identity of a company or a person.
Ready? Ok, let’s do this!
Let’s start with what is perhaps the main term: the brand.
What is a Brand?
“The brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room” – Jeff Bezos
The brand is essentially the set of visual, perceptive and emotional elements that are associated with certain companies, organizations, products or people.
One of my favorite examples to understand what a brand is and the importance of a brand is Ferrari.
The moment we think of Ferrari we don’t think of a racing car manufacturing industry. Or rather, not only that! We immediately think of speed, wealth, luxury, and red!
“Give a child a sheet of paper, colors and ask him to design a car: it will surely make it red.” – Enzo Ferrari
This is the meaning of the brand: the whole of all that is perceived by a given company. And this is precisely why it is so fundamental.
“A business is only as strong as its brand is strong” – Jim Stengel, from his book “Grow”
A strong brand is also recognized among many others. A strong brand is that of which people fall in love, trust or think it is superior to others.
In fact, how a brand is perceived by the public enormously influences the success of the company it represents.
But one important thing is that the brand is NOT just the logo, and using them as synonyms is profoundly wrong.
Brand, branding, brand identity: their meaning
When it comes to Brand, I like to use the Iceberg metaphor.
In practice, the Icebergs are those masses of floating ice that was once present in large numbers in the Arctic Ocean but are now disappearing due to global warming.
The important (and dangerous) thing about the Icebergs is that most of the ice mass is underwater, not visible. That being said, we will only see a small part of the exposed top floating above the surface.
And the same happens with the Brand.
We perceive only a tiny bit of them. We perceive, in particular, the aesthetic aspects, the image, the logo.
The logo, in fact, is the tip of that Iceberg and is the first thing that people see of a Brand. Precisely for this reason, it must be able to identify all that is hidden underwater, aka – the rest of the Brand.
So a brand is the whole that is seen or perceived by a company. The Logo is instead the symbol that represents and identifies the entire brand of the company.
The difference between Logo and Brand
The logo, short for “logography “, is the graphic transposition of the name of a company. Usually, it can be composed of a pictogram (the symbol, the drawing) and/or logotype (the writing).
From a legal point of view, the logo is one of the elements that can be registered as a trademark.
The trademark, in practice, is a legal term that indicates something that can be registered or registered as a single element.
A brand can be a logo (figurative mark and wordmark) but it can also be of various other types. It can be, for example, a product form (shape mark), a texture (a mark with repeated motifs), an image, a sound or a video (multimedia mark), etc.
So, the logo can be a brand but a brand is not just a logo.
Don’t use them as two synonyms!
Other terms that are often used
When we talk about Brand, many other terms are often mentioned. Let’s try to give a definition for each of them.
Branding could literally be translated as “marking” or “making a brand” and is basically the process by which a Brand is communicated (and built).
Branding is the process by which a company builds its brand in practice.
Brand identity or brand identity
Brand identity is the tangible part of a brand – what you can see, touch, feel or handle.
It is the logo, the packaging, the TV spot, the color or the product. It is the set of all these things, which constitute the identity and communication apparatus of a brand.
The strategy is, of course, a brand’s operating action plan.
A good brand strategy is one that provides a central and unified idea around which all the behavior and communication of a company must rotate.
This is what the name says – the art of telling the brand correctly, using brand identity and remaining consistent with the brand strategy.
Distinguishing all these terms may seem like something that’s not very useful or superfluous but it is essential if you want to be really professional when working in the world of communication.
Each business sector has its own language. Learning the language of that sector is fundamental to be able to really be part of it.