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Branding vs. Brand Identity

Branding vs. Brand Identity | Spruce Rd.

Branding vs. Brand Identity | Spruce Rd.

I am SO excited to introduce a new series to the blog! I have such a passion for branding + brand identities, so I thought it might be helpful to create a blog series where I focus on various ways to strengthen your brand. Through this series, I will walk you through a few ways to build your brand in an intentional + strategic way.

I think that the term “branding” gets tossed around where it doesn’t belong, especially by designers (myself included!). It is important to cover the definition to understand the various aspects of branding. Majority of people think that the term “branding”, “brand identity” and “logo” are synonymous. While they work well together, they all serve different purposes.


There is a lot of depth to branding beyond the visual brand identity, which is what I offer to clients. I think this definition of branding, by Seth Godin, sums it up nicely: “A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.” It isn’t a tangible element, it goes beyond design. Within the branding, you will find the brand identity, which is the visual representation of all of the elements that aren’t tangible.

Branding consists of a visual language and should exude the goals and mission of your business. This includes how you describe your business, handle customer service, your niche market, how you function as a business and much more. Knowing how you want to be portrayed to your audience is key to creating a consistent message + look for your business.

Brand Identity

The brand identity of a company is a set of visual attributes that create the look + feel of your business. This includes typography, colors, logo usage, patterns and other graphic elements.

One of the requests that I receive often from potential clients is to create a logo for their company. When first out of school and starting out in my career, I would take on these requests (and hardly charge a thing!), not thinking much about the strategy + thought process behind this symbol. While the logo is at the core of the brand identity, there needs to be a shift to focus on the brand identity as a whole, and not solely a logo.

I really enjoy crafting thoughtful, conceptual + creative logos, however I understand that a strong brand identity looks far more professional and consistent than a company that only has a logo, with no other supporting elements. A simple + minimal typeset logo, accompanied by beautiful photographs, emphasis on typography and a consistent visual language can go a long way. Think:

Kinfolk Magazine




Kate Spade

. All of these companies have minimal logos, yet have such a strong visual brand identity that is easily recognizable.

While I believe design is essential, it is not the only component of branding.

I hope this post helps clarify the breadth that branding entails, and the diverse attributes of it. I am excited for the next few posts in this series, discussing how you can strengthen your brand.


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  1. Sarah Le Donne

    Very well said! It’s so important to keep that in mind and to explain it to your clients as well. They aren’t experts in this fields, they hire us to guide them along the way and we should do our best to do so. I also love your examples of brands with minimal logos. The logos might look simple standing alone, but everybody immediately sees their visual world when just hearing the names!
    Looking forward to more of this series!

    1. Jamie

      Thanks for stopping by, Sarah! Great insight as always! I agree, we need to educate the clients up front and clarify the expectations on what we can deliver as the designer. I love the minimal logos too! It is so hard to pass that off to a client though. Trying to work on a process that doesn’t put as much emphasis on the logo, but instead on the visual identity as a whole!

  2. How to Organize Your Blog - Spruce Rd.Spruce Rd.

    […] about a few broad categories, you begin to strengthen the message + vision behind your brand. In an earlier post, I mentioned how branding is not just the visual aspect of your business, but also encompasses the […]

  3. Jennifer

    So articulate and timely-this really resonated with me. Just a days from the launch of a new blog I’m in full on “brand identity crisis mode.” Your words nudged me away from fixating solely on style elements and caused me to evaluate if I had the rest of my house in order. Thank you!

    1. Jamie

      So good to hear this resonated with you! Congrats on the new blog, how exciting!

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    […] week, I kicked off my new branding blog series by chatting about the differences between branding, brand identities and logos. Branding as a whole has so many components + moving parts, that it is sometimes hard to pinpoint […]

  5. Brittany

    Love this! This is super helpful. I love how simply you’ve broken it down. It’s so easy for me to jump into creating without helping the client flesh out what they want their brand to say first. Thanks for the reminder! 😉

    1. Jamie

      So glad it was helpful for you! Branding is pretty complex! I agree, it is best to flesh out these details with the client first – and also establish what aspect of branding you offer (I only offer brand identity)!

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