Differences between branding and brand identity and the importance of brand consistency in the customer decision-making process
Brand identity (or brand visual identity) is the visible element of a brand. Brand visual identity elements such as colour, fonts and logos identify a brand in the audience’s minds. It differentiates a business from its competition.
It is important to develop a unique and memorable brand identity. Like first impressions, your visual identity leaves a great impact on your audience. If your brand identity is strong, relevant and attractive, it helps you to attract the right audience.
Let’s start by explaining the difference between branding and visual brand identity.
The difference between branding and visual brand identity:
Jeff Bezos says, “Branding is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
Branding is the foundation of your brand, while visual brand identity represents your business to others. In other words, visual brand identity consists of visual elements while branding includes your mission, vision, values and tone of voice. See the graphics below to understand it even better.
Strong Branding & Strong Brand Identity
To create a strong branding, you need to
- Define your brand values, mission, and vision, and create your story (read more on this blog post)
- Define your brand personality
- Define your target audience
Once you define all the above, you can create a brand identity with the right visual elements. These visual elements should
- Build trust between your business and your ideal clients
- Make a great first impression
- Send your brand message
- Make your business look like the perfect choice for them to work with/buy from your business
Here, you need to consider what kind of design would work best to attract the right clients and keep them engaged with your brand. Creating a professional visual identity is not about beautiful logos and colours but about providing a great experience for your audience. Your visual elements (such as colours, photography, fonts etc.) should represent your strategy. You need to keep consistency in every visual aspect in order not to confuse the audience.
How do customers make decisions?
Let’s look at it from the customer’s point of view. Do you know how customers make decisions? Here is how;
1- They become aware of a problem. At this point, they are not ready to spend money at all. They are only looking.
2- When they get more serious, they start to do research to see what’s out there. They look for options. This could be on social media, emails or freebies some businesses sent in the previous days.
3- They start to consider options and are about to make a decision. They are hesitant. They might do it themselves, or choose X company instead of Y Company.
4- They still have doubts and questions but they will make the decision. They check the business’ testimonials, warranties, case studies etc.
5- They buy the product or service, but they still have doubts about the process. What if it doesn’t work and what if it’s not what they’ve always wanted? They need reassurance at this step.
As you can see, it takes a long time for people to make a decision after becoming aware of a problem. Your job as an entrepreneur should be to turn the people at the first stage to happy and loyal customers. To do this, you need to keep the brand consistent on all customer touchpoints and make your business memorable at all stages. Customer touch points include your packaging, printed materials, website, blog, social media channels, emails etc.
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So what do you need to do to create brand consistency?
You need to leave an impression through consistency. If you speak to your audience with different colours, fonts or photography every time you communicate with them, you end up introducing yourself again and again. However, if you are consistent in visual elements, they will keep you in mind. This might sound boring to you as an entrepreneur, but it is the best way to create consistent and powerful branding. You might enjoy trying out new fonts or imagery, but this destroys the trust of your audience and ruins your brand identity.
To keep your brand consistent, you can create a brand guideline. A complete brand guideline includes;
- The usage of your logo
- Colour palette and fonts
- Brand assets and photography style
- The tone of voice – the phrases you use
- Templates for social media
- Web design guideline
If you keep your visual identity consistent but cannot make sales or attract clients, your brand identity might need a brand refresh. Here are some reasons you may need a brand refresh;
- You cannot reach the right audience
- You feel like your visual identity is outdated
- Your online and offline identity don’t align
- Your market has expanded and your competitors are ahead of you
- You cannot make sales anymore
Do you think you need to be more consistent in your branding efforts or need help with building your visual identity? Contact us today to enquire our visual identity services.