Why branding and visual identity are not the same
I get tons of emails as day, I’m an avid reader and podcast listener, and I basically signed up for almost every author’s newsletter.
I know, I am crazy to litter my inbox, specially because I noticed I open only a few of these emails: the people that really matter. Sure, I do try to unsub from irrelevant newsletters.
Apart from client and work emails, I tend to open the emails from Tim Ferriss, Jocko Willink, James Altucher, Gary Vaynerchuk, The Futur, SeanWes, Mactrast (a deals website for design people), Fitnesstukku (a Finnish online shop with deals on supplements), and that’s it. My inbox is sitting to close to 800 unread emails, that I occasionally mindlessly just hit “Mark all as read”.
But why is that you and I open that brand’s email and not the other one? What makes me pick Tim Ferriss over Grand Cardone (sorry Grant)?
Branding is what makes us pick one email over another, or a service or product over another. In my case of authors and podcast creators, it’s the unconscious knowledge that I will get the value I am looking for. Over time, I’ve learned I always get at least one nugget out of these people’s content.
That’s branding: the image and perception your company has on people’s mind. I have purchased all of Tim’s books, but I stopped at 10X with Grant. Yes, you will see I have listened to Grant’s books, but I didn’t purchase them, I used services like Audible and Scribd to listen or read them. Even if I had done something similar to Tim’s books,I still went there and purchased one or more version of the same book across platforms.
Whenever I get the email from Fitnesstukku or Mactrast, the value I am getting, in this case, is in form of services or products I wouldn’t pay for if I didn’t actually have a deal off of it. Let’s be honest, we all try to save money on purchases, right?
If my experience with Tim’s or Jocko’s brand is great, how more likely am I to purchase from them? The simplest way–that requires a lot of work, by the way–to gain a positive image is to deliver value. Give people your knowledge.
If branding is the mind’s perception, the visual identity is the dramatic horn visual perception. The way a page look and feels as you browse their blogs, if it speaks to their personality and so on.
Go to http://seanwes.com and then go to http://jockopodcast.com. You can tell immediately what they are about just with the looks and feels of things. Jocko’s logo is so military it might as well have a cammo texture on it, whilst Sean’s brand is definitely directed to a creative freelance audience.
Why you mix these things up
When I interview prospect clients about their business, most of them are focused on a logo. I educate as far as they let me educate them about the role of a logo on a visual identity, and the role of a visual identity on a brand, and the role of a brand in a business. Do you see the importance factor increasing there?
It doesn’t mean that you can’t have a business without a brand, but the time a prospect client will take to know, like and trust you to make a purchase will be much, much longer, even if you don’t have an extremely polished visual identity. On the other hand, you might have a strong brand, but no business, and people will be ready to follow you and give you money even if you aren’t really asking it from them.
People make the confusion between brand and visual identity because they think all that it takes is a logo. You are a smart person and you’ve already noticed that is better to focus on your brand as a perception rather than on a logo. A logo designer can fix you a logo really quickly, really. I can take no more than a few hours from sketch to final vector.
The mistake lies in making the logo the brand, instead of making the people the brand. A brand is not about you, it’s about the people you are trying to deliver to. A brand is about the value you are trying to give them through services, products and information. The best way to ensure that your logo and visual identity will be successful is to focus on your brand first–always. Hire someone experienced to fill in the gaps you are missing to take your business to the next level.
Some quick takeaways:
– A visual identity is just one of the facets of branding;
– Visual identity is a visual system, that includes the logo, the colors, the typography, and any other image/photo that is included on a branding system;
– A brand is a system that delivers values to implant a positive image on people’s brains;
– A person with a positive perception of a brand is more likely to purchase from that business;
– A visual identity is not just the logo;
– A brand is not just the logo, in fact the logo is a small part of it;
– A branding system can include words, smells, sounds, textures etc, but also user experience and value delivery.