Difference Between Brand Identity and Brand Image | Brand Images vs Brand Identity

Brand Identity vs Brand Image

The difference between brand image and brand identity is derived from the core concept of branding and how customers perceive it. Brand can be classified as a symbol, mark, logo, name, word, sentence or a mix of these items, which companies use to differentiate them from other sellers in the market. Brand is considered an important aspect of marketing nowadays and companies allocate high budgets for branding. Branding has two faces; one is what companies communicate, while the other is what customer perceives. This element leads to various theories, out of which brand identity and brand image are important.

What is Brand Identity?

Brand identity is a portrayal derived from an organisation. It is the total proposition a company wants to show to their customers or how the company wants to be identified by their customers. The communication originating from an organisation such as advertising or public relation campaign will attempt to provide a unique message of their offering to its customer segments. This is brand identity. As an organisation, they are responsible for creating a distinguished offer towards their customers. Brand identity includes the noticeable elements of trademark color, logo, name, symbols, taglines, and communication (presentations). An example of brand identity is Coca Cola’s theme of ‘Open Happiness.’

Brand identity is the first impression of an offering for a customer. It will create mental as well as functional perceptions in the mind of customers. This perception will lead to familiarity and will differentiate the offering. From the customer point of view, the proposition of the company is translated as a promise. So, brand identity also can be classified as a promise by a company to their customers. For example, with the tagline of ‘Open Happiness’ of Coca Cola, they send a message it can be shared with friends and will make any moment happier while quenching thirst.

A unique brand identity that reflects buyer aspiration is important for any organisation, as it can lead to customer satisfaction, motivated employees, brand loyalty, growth, and customer retention. A good brand identity will be sustainable, and buyers will be able to instantly recognize it with the company’s products. For example, red with white lines correlate with Coca Cola one of the most successful brands worldwide.

Difference Between Brand Identity and Brand Image | Brand Images vs Brand Identity

Open Happiness theme of Coco Cola is an example for brand identity

What is Brand Image?

Brand image is the perception of a customer about a brand. It is related to what a customer associates the brand with, within their minds. It can be beliefs, referrals, message the organisation presents to its customers, or any other customer thinks relevant about a brand. Brand image is not necessarily created; it’s automatically formed. Some customers form emotional binding towards a brand. For example, though Volvo brand identity is safety, in the minds of Swedish people, it is a patriotic symbol. Wherever they are in the world, they would want to buy a Volvo and showcase their patriotism.

Brand image is the character of a company or the promise that customer experiences, and not what the company proposes. Companies have to work hard to enforce their promise and translate it into customer experience consistently. This will lead to a positive brand image in which the company exceeds customer expectations. If a company is achieving success at this, its excellence can be guaranteed. The brand image should be strengthened with brand communications such as advertising, packaging, word of mouth publicity, and other promotional tools.

Difference Between Brand Identity and Brand Image | Brand Images vs Brand Identity

Brand image of Volvo is patriotism for Swedish people

What is the difference between Brand Identity and Brand Image?

Brand is a wide subject of study and is of high significance in the present corporate world. The subsets of the brand that we are discussing are the brand identity and brand image. They mostly originate from a single location that is the brand message. But, the presentation and perception differentiate both terms. We will delve into the differences between the two further.

• Source:

• Brand identity gets developed from the company.

• Brand image is the perception of the offering from customer point of view.

• Vision:

• Brand identity is looking ahead or a future vision of the company. It’s the expression of company offering.

• Brand image is looking at past experiences and entrenched beliefs of the customer. It’s the impression of offer experience.

• Orientation:

• Brand identity flows down from the corporate strategy. So, it has a strategic orientation.

• Brand image is perception oriented.

• Action:

• Brand identity is active, where a company has the power to portray what they prefer and has the ability to change it. The influence rests with the company about brand identity.

• Brand image is passive, where the customer perception is automatically formed. Customers do not have a direct control or influence on their perception as it is a mental image.

• Message Combination:

• Brand message of the company is tied with brand identity.

• Customer segregates the brand image for their understanding or absorption that is brand image.

We have been able to classify and differentiate brand identity and brand image. Simply, brand identity is what company presents itself about its products while, brand image is what customer perceives about the offering. So, the organisation’s message is brand identity while the consumer reception is brand image.



  1. Kotler, T and Keller K. (2012). Marketing Management. 14e Global ed., Pearson Education.


Images Courtesy:

  1. Open happiness by Danielle Brandwijk (CC BY-SA 2.0)
  2. Volvo V70 D5 by M 93 (CC BY-SA 3.0 de)