Brand Identity vs Brand Strategy: What You Need to Know

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Recently updated on May 21st, 2024 at 10:47 am

As a business owner, you’ve probably heard the terms brand identity and brand strategy before. But what exactly are they? Or, more importantly, why do you need to know about them?

If you’re looking to establish a strong brand presence, understanding how brand identity and brand strategy interact is vital. After all, these two concepts play pivotal roles in the design of your brand’s image. It informs what your customers see, what your staff follow, and what your investors look for.

In this article, we’ll explore the differences between brand identity and brand strategy, and how they work together to build a more resilient brand. By the end, you’ll have a better understanding of these important concepts and how they can add value to your business.

What is Brand Identity?

Brand identity is the visual, verbal, and emotional representation of your business. It is how your brand is perceived by your target audience; the design elements and overall image that make you unique. Here’s a breakdown of what goes into a full brand identity:

The Visual Element

  • Logo: A distinctive symbol or mark that represents your brand. Think of the iconic swoosh of Nike or Apple’s partially eaten apple.
  • Colour Palette: A set of colours used consistently across branded material. Consider Coca-Cola's signature red or the vibrant hues of the Google logo.
  • Typography: The specific fonts you use for on-brand messaging. A good example is Airbnb's consistently clean, easy-to-read typography.

The Verbal Element

  • Tone of Voice: The manner in which your brand communicates with its audience. Are you friendly and approachable, or direct and formal? Brands like Innocent Drinks use a playful tone, while brands like IBM adopt a more professional tone.
  • Brand Messaging: The core values your brand conveys. This includes taglines, mission statements, and value propositions. Again, consider Nike's empowering slogan "Just Do It" or Apple's mission to "Think Different."

The Emotional Element

  • Brand Experience: What your customers feel when they interact with your brand. This includes overall customer experience, the quality of your products or services, and the emotions evoked by your values. For example, Starbucks, with cosy store design, personalised service, and customisable beverages, offers a 'treat yourself' brand experience that goes beyond just selling coffee.

Benefits of Brand Identity

A well-developed brand identity gives you a strong foundation for growth. It supports your business in a number of ways, including:


A strong brand identity sets you apart from competitors and helps you stand out in a crowded market.


Reoccurring visual elements build brand recognition, making it easier for customers to recall your brand.


The more often you see the same face, behaving in the same way, the more you grow to trust them. The same applies to a well-defined, consistent brand identity.


Elements such as tone of voice and brand experience play at the emotional chords of your customers, leading to stronger brand loyalty.

What is Brand Strategy?

While brand identity is focused on presentation, brand strategy looks beneath what’s shown on the surface. It encompasses the direction and goals of your brand, providing a strategic roadmap for your marketing team. Brand strategy is more than what your audience sees; it’s about the decisions, planning, and actions that effectively position your brand and business.

Key Components

The reason why your brand exists (beyond making a profit!). It defines the core values and mission that guide your actions, providing meaningful direction in your decision-making.

The specific group of people who are interested in and benefit from your services. This covers demographics, user needs, and general preferences.

How you want your brand to be perceived when compared to your competitors. Brand positioning highlights the unique value you offer, creating a point of difference for your audience.

The communications that convey the essence of your brand. Brand messaging is about consistent, effective comms, following a set style guide for each audience.
Your brand personality is a set of human-like traits that define the tone and style of what you do. It shapes how you connect with your audience, offering a relatable image.
Brand architecture is the strategy behind each component of your brand portfolio. It determines where different products, sub-brands, or extensions are positioned, giving them a clear marketing direction.
The set of rules that guide how your brand is represented across consumer touchpoints. They ensure consistency in messaging, visuals, and overall brand experience, maintaining a unified brand presence.

What's the Difference?

Brand identity focuses on your public image. Brand strategy is the framework for how you actually deliver it. Together, they ensure your brand’s messaging, personality, and style are aligned with your business goals. You can think of it this way: brand identity is the what, while brand strategy is the how and why.

Brand Identity

Brand Strategy

By understanding the difference between brand strategy and brand identity, you can see how they work together. Your brand identity is the sail, and your brand strategy is the wind that sets your direction. Without an identity, your brand strategy won’t get you moving. But without a solid brand strategy, you’ll have no momentum behind your identity.

What can they do for your business?

When it comes to your business, brand identity and brand strategy play crucial roles in shaping your success. Effectively implementing these concepts will have a big impact on your marketing efforts, allowing you to:

1. Guide your brand design

Having a target to shoot for when you start a brand design project allows you to make decisions with more intent. With a brand strategy in place, design decisions in a branding process can go beyond just choosing what looks good. Instead, you can focus on future brand perception and ask: will this add value to my business?

2. Establish a stronger brand presence

Establishing a powerful brand identity lets you create more memorable imagery. This is crucial to improve your brand presence. Once you have a style that promotes customer recall,  your brand strategy can make sure it’s used in a way that improves brand equity and boosts your bottom line.

3. Connect with your target audience

Brand strategy guides you in understanding your target audience, their needs, and preferences. Taking this understanding into your messaging, you can make a more personal connection with your customers – something that encourages trust and loyalty.

4. Create a reliable brand experience

Brand strategy develops a clear, consistent approach to customer relations. By extending this across every touchpoint, from your website to your social media, you become a comfortable choice for consumers. You can then cement this brand experience in your style guide and communication strategy, ensuring brand consistency is in the hands of every member of your business.

5. Control a segment

A well-defined brand identity and strategy allows you to take control of your niche. If you become known by certain colours, logos, or messaging, you’ve essentially claimed ownership of them. Like the Cadbury purple or McDonald’s golden arches, it’s a brand risk for other companies to go anywhere near your branded elements once they’re tied to your name.

6. Inspire employee alignment

If your employees can see your brand’s purpose and values, they can become ambassadors for your brand. But for this to happen, you need to have a clear framework for the How, Why, and What of your brand.

The Key Takeaway

By combining brand identity with brand strategy, you create a more cohesive brand experience. Each audience interaction becomes an opportunity to reinforce your values and personality. This consistency builds recognition, trust, and loyalty amongst your target audience, contributing to the long-term success of your business.

At Spark, we understand how important it is to get this balance right. Our team of experts can work with you to develop comprehensive brand packages, including Style GuideCommunication Strategy, Logo Design, Brand Guidelines, and more. 

Learn about our branding services and how we can help you build a stronger brand here.

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