post tag icon Marketing
09 / 02 / 23

Brand Development: Brand Identity vs Brand Image

It’s no secret that successful companies spend millions on brand development, with a clear focus on strong logos and defined identities. But with over half a million start-ups founded yearly in the UK alone, developing and building a strong brand through professional branding support is the only way to survive.

The idea behind brand development is creating a brand identity and image - an ‘essence’ for your brand that's easily memorable to consumers. When we think of Apple, Amazon, or Google, it’s easy to visualise aspects of their brand identities. The minimalist, bitten apple comes to mind effortlessly whenever someone mentions the word ‘apple’. And the pull of Google’s colourful logo and name is so strong that when searching for anything on the web, we refer to it as ‘googling’.

Boldness and originality in brand development is crucial to success. A brand won’t be remembered if its identity seems identical in spirit to another brand. With new companies forming at a rate of one a minute in the UK since 2021, how can you ensure that yours will be the most memorable within a particular day, let alone a whole year?

Luckily, branding support will give you various ways to increase your visibility as a brand. We’ll review the aspects that most likely will need some tweaking, and show you how to improve your brand identity.

A brand development team at work, brainstorming ideas

Brand development - brand identity or brand image?

Firstly, we have to distinguish between ‘brand identity’ and ‘brand image’. when talking about development. Whereas brand identity refers to the visual (and some textual) aspects of a brand, which can always be fine tuned; brand image is something formed over time, beyond the control of the business (which is why it’s so crucial to get the groundwork right!).

When working on brand development, we place most of our focus on the brand’s ‘look’ and ‘feel’, the goal being to elevate the effectiveness of the brand’s identity in attracting customers through its logo, colour scheme, and design. It’s all the eye candy stuff that we care about here.

In 2023, brand identity will only increase in importance – it's ultimately what makes a brand easier to understand. You definitely don’t want to confuse your audience by putting on a poker face. Instead, you want them to form the right opinion of your brand, which according to research takes about 10 seconds from their first exposure to it. One thing is for certain: your brand development needs to focus on making it distinguishable from other brands. Customers must have a clear idea of its ‘essence’ and what your brand’s mission actually is from its very inception. This is where seeking outside branding support is helpful in defining what it is you want to accomplish with your brand's identity and how you're going to achieve it.

Three coloured lightbulbs illustrate how brand development helps brands evolve

The building blocks of brand development

You might be wondering what the actual components of brand identity are, so here’s a breakdown of the key areas:

Conceptual elements to focus on when developing brand identity include:

  • Brand name
  • Personality
  • Brand positioning
  • Tagline
  • Architecture of the brand

The brand’s visual identity must also be aligned with the core essence and mission of the brand. It’s communicated through:

  • Colours
  • Shapes
  • Typography
  • Logos
  • Photos
  • Design

Up and coming brand identity trends in 2023

In short, we’re heading towards minimalistic, symbolic, and emotive branding.

If you whacked out the good ol’ time machine to jump about a decade into the past, there was a lot going on in the branding world. The Instagram logo from the 2010s, for example, used realistic strokes to make the logo look like a real camera.

Although this former version appealed to early audiences, it arguably isn’t as memorable or sleek as Instagram’s logo in 2023; its colours and symbolic styling carry the ‘essence’ of the brand rather than trying to portray realism – and this is where we’re heading. Brands in 2023 must show something meaningful, memorable, and appealing… ideally all at the same time.

Animated Logos

Animated logos are going to be all the buzz throughout 2023. They enable the brand to communicate key information with a short, animated snippet. These short animations are a natural evolution of the common static logo; they’re intriguing, dynamic, and fun to look at. Interestingly, most animated brand logos in 2023 maintain a minimalist and symbolic look, despite being a moving image. A prime example of this is the SHAZAM logo.

Shazam’s animated logo speaks volumes, literally. The short gif comprises the brand’s name, their static logo, and a blue and purple sound ring which pulses around their static logo like sound waves. Stumbling upon the moving image, a viewer would immediately guess that the app is related to music in some capacity thanks to the animation of electronic sound waves, and can easily memorise (and search for!) the brand’s short name which is displayed in the centre of the screen. The moral of the story is: highly-conceptual, informative, and intriguing logos will be all the hype throughout 2023.

Getting branding support from a professional marketing agency is another good way to keep your finger on the pulse when it comes to new developments, technologies, and trends in branding.

Minimalism and cohesion

Whatever your product, and whatever theme you choose to stick to, it must align with your brand’s webpage design, tone of communication, and personality. The narrative and ethos of your brand development must be conveyed consistently on every platform, outreach, and new product you market, this is what brand identity is all about. This is also where seeking professional branding support will reap big rewards, as a full-service marketing agency will be able to offer you this kind of cohesion across every aspect of your brand.

The marketing agency unknown establishes its personality with clear-cut, minimalist designs across its brand, which initially creates a sense of ambiguity and intrigue. The agency doesn’t define itself in detail until you enter its webpage, where everything follows a crisp, monochrome colour scheme. The brand’s name ‘unknown’ appears on the top corner of every page in lowercase as a modest logo.

The logo for marketing agency Unknown is clear and simple

It quickly becomes apparent to the viewer that the brand doesn’t operate in the spotlight, but works behind the scenes to improve customer acquisition and to accelerate business growth for its clients, which it places in the spotlight instead. The brand’s visual factors compliment the brand’s mission of being fast-moving, innovative, and candid in the company’s approach to digital marketing, which has rapidly built it a strong reputation in the marketing world.

Unknown's website carries the brand's simplistic visuals across the whole platform

The Retro Rewind

On the other hand, one of the rising trends that seems to be quietly taking the branding world by storm and evoking strong emotions in consumers is the return to anything retro, also known as ‘nostalgia marketing’.

The restaurant chain Karen’s Diner – famous for its signature rude service – has amassed over 1.2 social media followers and 1.5 billion TikTok views by establishing a strong brand identity through nostalgia marketing. Consumers are not only intrigued by the unique customer-service concept offered by the chain, but develop a craving for its retro dining experience, reminiscent of old-school American diners.

In terms of brand development and cohesion, both the Karen’s Diner social media pages and its website are bursting with retro shapes, colours, and images, which strengthen the brand’s identity by portraying its services as something longed-for and sentimental in the minds of customers. It’s fair to say, nostalgia marketing makes you hungry for your past.

Alternative eatery Karen's Diner has used brand development to its retro advantage

Brand activism

One thing that consumers now expect is for brands to be pro-active and speak out on the things that matter to their audiences. Brand activism has therefore become a huge aspect of strategic brand development and identity.

Many studies have shown that people no longer want brands to shy away from political opinions. In fact, 70% of consumers feel it’s important for brands to take a stand on public issues, and 66% of consumers say it’s because they believe brands can create real change. Ultimately, deciding where you stand on certain issues can help you to define your brand identity - and getting professional branding support is a great way to consolidate this into strong messaging for your brand.

Some of the popularity of the Who Gives a Crap brand of toilet paper can be attributed to the brand’s ongoing activism. The company shows itself as relentlessly fighting climate change and campaigning for sustainability on its social media platforms. The brand’s mission and strong philosophy are at the centre of every image, campaign, and product it releases. It also has a dedicated ‘Impact’ page on its website, detailing the global aid the brand provides and the work it continues to prioritise in developing communities. While running worldwide operations and speaking out on many social issues, Who Gives a Crap also manages to wow its audience with an endless supply of loo puns. We’re sold.

Brand development can be used to highlight your brand's values, like Who GIves A Crap toilet paper that campaigns against deforestation

Final Thoughts

There you have it, a run-down of what brand development is, along with our top tips for improving your brand identity- with some of these staples definitely reigning way beyond 2023. If you’re a brand, there’s a message in a bottle for you: don’t be a robot, be yourself. Thoughts, opinions, and an established style, can help you to define your mission and reveal your unique identity to the world.

If you’d like any help with branding support and development, get in touch.

Written by Ewa Formation