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  • Writer's pictureVincent Grippi

Brand Image vs Brand Identity

Effective branding is so much more than a well-designed logo. While effective design provides a great foundation to build your brand image, it's your brand identity that helps give it life.

Although people often use the terms "brand identity" and "brand image" interchangeably, they're actually two different pieces of the branding puzzle. Understanding their differences and how they work together are the building blocks for crafting a solid, memorable brand.

What is Brand Image?

Brand image is your audience's overall perception of your brand, shaped by their experiences, interactions, and word-of-mouth. It encompasses your users' feelings, associations, and reputation about the brand. The way people see your brand isn't just about what you do – it's also influenced by their experiences, what the media says, and what's happening in the world. These things shape how your brand is seen and trusted by customers and others, affecting its reputation and how people feel about it.

What is Brand Image? The components of brand image

Let's take a look at Livongo Health's brand image.

Livongo is a data-based health program that offers coaching, support, and technology for people with pre-diabetes, diabetes, or hypertension. Livongo's brand image is characterized by innovation, personalized care, and empowerment for individuals managing chronic conditions such as diabetes. This perception is reinforced by positive user testimonials, endorsements from healthcare professionals, and media coverage highlighting the platform's impact on improving health outcomes and overall quality of life for its users.

Livongo Health's Brand Image
Livongo reinforces its brand image by showcasing real customer stories and testimonials

What is Brand Identity?

Brand identity is comprised of the things that a brand can control of how it presents itself to the world. It is the story a brand tells about itself, including its vision, mission statement, logo, brand voice, and messaging. It encompasses the core characteristics, values, personality, and mission the brand wants to be known for. 

Maven Clinic is virtual platform that provides comprehensive care for fertility and family-building needs. Through its optimistic, modern and inclusive branding, highlighted by diverse family imagery and empowering messages that radiate confidence and control, Maven Clinic communicates a steadfast commitment to making healthcare more navigable for today's women and families.

Maven Clinic's Brand Identity
Maven Clinic's brand identity emphasizes modern solutions for today's women and families

Brand Image vs. Brand Identity: Two Parts of a Whole

While brand image is influenced by user experiences and external perceptions, brand identity is actively crafted to convey a specific narrative and user experience. Effective alignment of brand image with brand identity enables companies like Livongo and Maven Clinic to build trust, differentiate themselves in a competitive market, and drive user- engagement and loyalty.

  • A strong brand identity forms the backbone of a positive brand image. When a company consistently delivers on its promises through its actions and messaging, it builds trust with its audience and users.

  • A positive brand image, in turn, can reinforce and enhance the brand identity. Customers with positive experiences are more likely to spread the word and advocate for the brand, strengthening its image and message.

Let's imagine two different telehealth platforms, referred to as Brand A and Brand B. Brand A boasts a sleek app interface, exceptional customer service, and a vibrant social media presence with high engagement. Conversely, Brand B presents a clunky and outdated interface, coupled with a lengthy 2-3 business day response time from their support team.

Brand A consistently refreshes its blog content, maintains an active presence on relevant channels, and has cultivated a sizable audience that consistently praises their interactions with the company. On the other hand, Brand B sporadically engages with its audience and lacks consistency in the quality of its content.

In this scenario, which brand is more likely to gain user trust? I think we can all agree that the winner is Brand A.

A recent study by Meta found that most people stick with a brand because it offers good value, a positive experience, high quality, and consistent service. When a brand fails to deliver on any of these 3 value points, they leave open a giant window of opportunity for competitors looking to get an edge in the market.

Brand Image vs. Brand Identity

Brand Image vs. Brand Identity: The Business Impact

When identity and image are consistent and harmonized, the result is a powerful brand that influences consumer behavior, drives growth and builds long-term customer loyalty.

Here are some stats that highlight the power of strong branding:

  • 70% of end users say that inconsistent presentation of a brand creates confusion and turns them off from those companies

  • Consistent brand image and identity can generate a 10-20% increase in your business revenue

  • 94% of end users reported that a positive customer service experience makes them more likely to purchase again

Headspace is an excellent example of a company that balances brand image and brand identity seamlessly. Headspace's app provides mindfulness tools for everyday life, including meditations, sleepcasts, mindful movement and focus exercises.

But you probably knew that already, since Headspace's brand precedes itself!

Headspace's brand identity is built on comfort, accessibility and mindfulness. This is reflected in their mission statement, "We make mental health support accessible to everyone.” This identity is reinforced through warm messaging and imagery that emphasizes the importance of mental health and emotional resilience, while providing the tools necessary to achieve both.

By upholding a tone and visual aesthetic that exude warmth, comfort, and a focus on the end user, Headspace has successfully forged a widespread and unmistakable brand identity in the digital wellness space.

Screenshot of Headspace Meditation app to show brand identity
A key component of Headspace's brand identity is its mindful and welcoming tone of voice

But Headspace doesn't fall short when it comes to their brand image either.

On its website and app, Headspace offers a wide range of guided meditation sessions, mindfulness exercises, and sleep sounds, all designed to promote relaxation and emotional balance.

Additionally, the brand produces a podcast called "Radio Headspace," featuring discussions on mental health topics, interviews with experts, and guided meditations, extending its reach to a broader audience beyond its app users. This is extrapolated to its social media platforms, where the brand consistently shares motivational quotes, mindfulness tips, and exciting content collaborations with notable athletes and celebrities, all of which promotes a culture of self-care and mental wellness.

Headspace Brand Image Example
Headspace brings its supportive brand image to life with content such as helpful podcasts

Ready to Build Your Brand?

Understanding the difference between brand image and brand identity is crucial for your company's long-term success. Your brand is more than just its looks; it's a living entity that people connect with.

Creating a strong brand requires finding the right balance between how you want people to see your brand (that's your brand identity) and how people actually perceive it (that's your brand image). It's not just about saying the right things; you've got to back it up with actions. Think of it as not just "talking the talk" but actually "walking the walk," making sure your brand lives up to what it promises in every way possible.


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