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The Difference: Brand vs. Branding vs. Brand Identity

Updated: Apr 13

Am I the only one that has to step back and remember I’m a nerd and others might not know what I’m talking about? Yeah? Okay cool.

Sometimes I have to remind myself that the terms I use are not in everyone else’s daily vocabulary. A huge part of the joy I get out of running a design business is educating my clients and sharing knowledge with other non-designers.

In light of that, I’m going to be breaking down some common terms and buzzwords. Here we go:

The design terms I want to focus on clarifying in this post are:



and Brand Identity

Wait, Ashlee! “Branding” … “Brand Identity”? This isn’t all the same thing?

Were you not listening? That’s why I’m here. The terms “brand,” “branding,” and “brand identity” are sometimes treated as interchangeable, but that’s not the case.

I'm going to attempt to use an analogy that my brain has pieced together over the many years of studying other expert explanations lol bare with me...

  • Brand is the perception of the company in the eyes of the world.

Let’s say you’re the socially anxious kid at school (like I was) but deep down you love sports and you want to sit at the athlete's table at lunch (is this still a thing?). You KNOW it's not that easy. Otherwise, you would have just sat down and started charming them, right? You can’t just expect other people to have that image of you. In order to develop this brand, you need to do some work.

  • Branding involves the marketing practice of actively shaping a distinctive brand.

You start working on your free throw. You study the stats from last night’s game. You rehearse your intro in the bathroom mirror. I’m not encouraging you or anyone else to be something or someone you’re not but you get the point, right? These actions are the work you’re putting towards developing your desired image; they’re your branding. Finally, you need to make sure you look the part.

  • Brand Identity is the collection of all brand elements that the company creates to portray the right image of itself to the consumer.

You hit up the Nike App and win the raffle for some new hooping shoes. You get your hair cut/done. Finally, you try out for the team annnndddd–you make the team!! Those tangible elements—the shoes, the hair, the team jersey—that’s brand identity.

Your brand identity is what makes you instantly recognizable as the athlete - or makes you recognizable to your customers. You want your audience to automatically associate your visuals and voice with your product or service. That identity shapes the connection between you and your customers. It builds customer loyalty and determines how your customers will perceive your brand.

Because–– marketing is what you said, but branding is what they remember.

see marketing vs. branding post

It all came full circle, right? Cool.

Have any other terms you’re confused about? I’d love to help you understand those, too!

Leave them in the comments below, or DM them to me on Instagram!

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