Is it Brand Strategy or Brand Identity?

When the word “brand” only had one meaning, it was easy to know exactly what a farmer meant when he said it. 

Yes… a farmer. 

Brand was originally just the mark that dictated how a farmer knew his cattle from that of the other ranches nearby. 

Now the term means so much more. The modern dictionary definition tells us that a brand is a “name, term, design, symbol, or other feature that distinguishes an organization or product."

With this expanded definition, there are a number of ways to misunderstand it. We sometimes use the term to refer to the brand identity, sometimes to refer to the brand strategy, and occasionally to discuss a brand experience.

Here is how we define the differences: 

We see brand identity as expressing the vision, values and voice of the organization. Our belief in inside-out branding is based on the fundamental belief that if the brand does not live and breath inside the organization, few will believe it from the outside.

A brand strategy defines the purpose of the brand and the aspirations for the position it wants to own in the mind of the target audience. Brand strategy is an internal construct, meant to articulate these ideas to the marketers, communicators and other employees who collectively work to convey the brand strategy to external audiences.

We see brand strategy as finding ways to express the brand in such a way that it occupies a desirable place in the minds of consumers. The strategy is intended to explain these plans to advertisers, communicators and agents, all working to share brand identity with external groups.

Each of these aspects is important to build a strong brand and understanding if a client needs to define or refine brand strategy, brand identity, or both is often a first and fundamental step in our brand planning projects.

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