Brand Identity – Definition, Elements & Its Importance For Startup Business With Examples


How do you distinguish your favourite brand of shoes from others?

What helps you identify a brand while shopping online or at a convenience store?

How does a brand differentiate itself from its competitors?

Brand identity is the answer to all these questions. Brand identity is to a brand, what personal identity is for humans. It gives a unique identity to the brand and differentiates it from competitors.

What Is Brand Identity?

Brand identity includes all the visual elements of a brand such as the brand name, logo, colour, design, tagline, tone, and language. Brand identity is the message that a company wishes to convey to its audience. It consists of the promise a brand wishes to make to its customers.

Most people confuse brand identity with brand image. However, both are different concepts.

Brand Identity Vs Brand Image

s.noBrand IdentityBrand Image
1Brand identity is the image a brand wants to portray to the audienceBrand image is how the audience perceives the brand based on their interactions with the brand
2The company has control over the visual imagery and other elements of brand identityThe company has little or no control over how customers perceive the brand  
3The brand message is tied together with the brand identityThe consumer unties the brand message and forms an opinion about the brand
4Brand identity is the total promise made by a company or a brand to its customersBrand image is formed based on how the customers react to the promise made by the brand
5Brand identity has to be createdBrand image is automatically formed when the customer interacts with the brand

Importance Of Brand Identity

Creating a brand identity is crucial for start-ups as brand identity influences the brand image. Creating a distinctive identity helps startups to increase brand awareness in a saturated market.

When more and more customers identify your brand and show interest in associating with it, you get a competitive advantage in the market.

We can observe the example of Apple to understand the importance of brand identity. Apple portrays itself as a pioneer in delivering products with cutting-edge technology. The company has successfully built a strong brand identity as a premium brand offering high-end products. This strong brand identity has helped them to create a similar brand image in their customers, who are excited to engage with the company every time they launch a new product.

Reasons Startups Should Invest In Building A Strong Brand Identity

  • Establishes credibility and trust in the target audience
  • Builds a strong emotional connection with the customers
  • Increases authority in the market
  • Promotes brand loyalty
  • Supports the marketing and advertising strategy
  • Helps in creating a brand community with people who believe in the brand and what it stands for
  • A strong brand identity helps to attract investors, customers, and top talent to the company

The Core Elements Of Brand Identity

Building a strong brand identity is crucial for startups. Before you start the task, it is important to know the basic elements of brand identity.

Company Logo

A logo is the cornerstone of your company identity. It conveys your business purpose and is the core element of the brand identity tool kit. The logo should be unique, simple and memorable. You can create a logo based on the name of the brand, products or services offered by the company or the company philosophy.

You can also use a combination of different aspects and create a logo for your startup. You have to create multiple variations of the logo for use in different applications. However, it is critical to ensure that all the variations are consistent and possess the same features.

Colour Palette

Colours have a strong visual impact and it is crucial to select the right colour palette for the brand. Understanding the basics of colour psychology will help you choose the right colours to convey your message accurately.

Another important point to keep in mind while choosing colours is that colours may appear differently in print and on-screen. Choose the right colours that look consistent across different mediums. It is also important to clearly differentiate the primary and secondary colour palette for the brand.

Consistency In Images and Patterns

Images and patterns that are used to portray your brand must be consistent in their look and feel. The images, graphics, or iconography used in the merchandise, advertisements, packaging, business cards, and other materials should be uniform. The graphical elements play a critical role in strengthening the brand identity. The dynamic ribbon of Coca-cola is a good example for memorable imagery.

Typeface Or Corporate Font

The corporate font is a significant element of the brand identity tool kit. Corporate font plays a crucial role in developing an integrated brand identity. You have to determine the fonts to use on your websites, advertisements, business cards, letterheads, and other marketing collateral of the company.

Tag Lines

“Just do it”

“It’s finger-lickin good”

“I’m lovin’ it”

These are some of the popular taglines of popular brands. You recognize the brand as soon as you read the taglines. You have to take utmost care while crafting the tagline for your brand. The tagline should be crisp, easy to remember, and catchy.

Vocabulary And Tone Of Voice

The tone of voice of a brand is the voice you read in all the content produced by the company like advertising materials, websites, emails, and social media. The tone of voice and vocabulary can shape a customer’s perception of the brand.

Brand Identity Prism

The elements of brand identity are represented in the form of a prism known as the brand identity prism. The brand identity prism was developed by Jean-Noel Kapferer, a marketing strategy professor.

The prism depicts the six elements of brand identity and how they interact with each other to build the central brand theme. According to Kapferer, brands that manage to harmonize all the six elements of the prism are successful in building a strong brand identity.

The six parts of the brand identity prism are

  • Physique – The physical characteristics that can be visually perceived by the audience. Brand logo, colour palette, iconography, imagery and product presentation come together to make a brand’s physique.
  • Personality – Brand personality is the voice of your brand. The vocabulary, tone of voice, corporate font and typeface are all part of the brand personality.
  • Culture – Culture symbolizes the beliefs and values of the brand. It depicts how a company lives by its mission statement and how it interacts with its employees, stakeholders, and customers.
  • Relationship – Relationship is the brand’s engagement with its customers, right from the initial interaction to after-sales service. A strong relationship with the customers helps you earn loyal customers.
  • Reflection – Reflection involves identifying your target customers. Once you identify the right customers, you can target to create a brand identity that matches the expectations of these customers. For example, if your startup is selling chemical-free ayurvedic makeup products, you should target young students and working women, who are vocal for healthy living.
  • Self-Image –   Self-image is how your target customers aspire to be. It describes how your brand can help them achieve these aspirations. For example, the storyline of Manyavar advertisements makes viewers visualize themselves as well-dressed and sophisticated characters enjoying different occasions.

You can use the brand identity prism while creating the brand identity for your company. Move through the different elements of the prism and create a personalized prism that answers the relevant questions such as who is your target customer, what are his/her aspirations, how would your brand add value to their life, what is your mission statement and what are the values the brand stands for. Based on your answers to these questions, create a central theme or concept for your brand.

Brand identity helps to create awareness about a brand and develop an emotional connection with the customers. It helps to differentiate your brand from competitors and supports the marketing strategy.

There are different elements that together form the brand identity. Brand logo, typography, iconography and images, colour palette, tone and vocabulary, and taglines are the six core elements of brand identity. Brand identity prism helps company’s to create a central brand concept while building the brand identity for their business.

Reader’s Insight

Let us know if we missed out on anything in this article Elements of Brand Identity and its importance for Startup Business and share your thoughts in the comment section.


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