Brand identity and brand image
The aim of this article is to identify the key differences between brand identity and brand image. Many people use the terms brand identity and brand image interchangeably and often do not consider the differences between the two. However, these two terms are quite different even though they build on one another.
What is a brand?
According to Kotler et al. (2009) a brand is a name that is given to a particular product or service or range of products and services. It basically exists to distinguish a particular product or service from its competitors. According to BPP Learning Media (2010) a brand may be a name, symbol, or any other device which is unique to the company and is its legal entitlement. Coca-Cola, Microsoft, McDonald’s, Google, and Apple are some of the biggest brands in the world.
Differences between brand identity and brand image
Let us first look into the definitions of brand identity and brand image before we start focusing on the differences between the two.
What is brand identity?
According to Kotler et al. (2009) brand identity is the way a company aims to identify or position itself or its product or service. It is in fact an identifiable representation of a company.
What is brand image?
According to Kotler et al. (2009) brand image is the visual or verbal expressions of a brand which leads to the psychological or emotional associations that the brand aspires to maintain in the minds of the consumer. It is in fact how customers perceive a brand.
As shown above there are some differences between brand identity and brand image. Brand identity is how a company presents the brand to the market and how it wants to be viewed by the target audience. On the other hand, brand image signifies what the brand currently stands for and how it is perceived by the customers.
Brand identity is the total value proposition that a company presents to its target audience. It depends on the company’s efforts to present itself to the target audience. On the other hand, brand image is about how customers view a brand and depends on the customer’s interactions and experiences with the brand.
Let us now consider an example. McDonald’s wants customers to see it as a restaurant that provides ‘good food’ of ‘great quality’; however, many customers perceive McDonald’s’ food as ‘unhealthy’ and a cause of obesity. What we see from this example is that the identity of a brand that a company wants to portray may not be the image that the customers have in their minds about the brand! So, this is a problem! And therefore, companies need to do everything possible to avoid being portrayed and perceived negatively.
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BPP Learning Media (2010) Business Essentials: Marketing Principles, 2nd edition, London: BPP Learning Media
Kotler, P., Keller, K., Brady, M., Goodman, M., Hansen, T. (2009) Marketing Management, 1st edition, UK: Pearson Education Limited
McDonald’s (2019) Our food, available at: http://corporate.mcdonalds.com/corpmcd/scale-for-good/our-food.html (accessed 09February 2019)
Author: M Rahman
M Rahman writes extensively online with an emphasis on business management, marketing, and tourism. He is a lecturer in Management and Marketing. He holds an MSc in Tourism & Hospitality from the University of Sunderland. Also, graduated from Leeds Metropolitan University with a BA in Business & Management Studies and completed a DTLLS (Diploma in Teaching in the Life-Long Learning Sector) from London South Bank University.