These three terms are often confused with one another, when in reality they are quite different. Is one more important than the others? Does every business have all three? There is a difference that dictates how each should fit into your marketing effort.
- Corporate identity is concerned with the visual aspects of a company’s presence. This includes your visual image such as logo, web site, and collateral. When you establish a corporate identity, you are trying to achieve an image that can be associated with your company to make it easy to remember you. A visual image makes your company more memorable.
- Brand identity is the total value proposition that a company makes to consumers. It may consist of features and attributes, benefits, performance, quality, service, support, and the values that the brand possesses. The brand identity could be described as your positioning statement with a personality and a set of values. Brand identity is everything the company wants the brand to be seen as and the position it occupies in people’s minds.
- Brand image expresses the way a customer thinks about the brand and the feelings the brand emotes when the consumer thinks about it. Your brand image is developed based on the experience a customer may have with your brand. Depending on whether this experience is good or bad determines your brand image. If the customer experiences a negative experience, you have to work really hard to change the perception of your brand in the minds of that customer. If the characteristics being placed on your brand are positive, you can build customer loyalty and a very strong competitive advantage for your brand.
The most important task for your company is to ensure that your brand image, or how your customers perceive you, is aligned with brand identity, or how you want to be perceived. Customer perceptions of quality, service, and the intangible associations that come to the fore when the brand name is seen or heard is one of the most valuable assets a company can have.
Let me share an experience I had recently. There is a book store to be left unnamed that I have frequented, mostly for the atmosphere. Its brand image was very positive and I have been there quite a bit. It really isn’t much different from its closest competitor. But to me, it was the place I like to go browse. One day I had a negative experience with one of the managers over a meeting I was trying to conduct with a client. Amazing what that experience has done to my brand loyalty! The competitor has gained a potential customer all because I was inconvenienced. Think about that the next time you are dealing with a client. You have control over whether their experience gives your competition an advantage or not.