Brand identity is the visible elements of a brand, such as color, design, and logo, that identify and distinguish the brand in consumers' minds. Brand identity is distinct from brand image. The former corresponds to the intent behind the branding and the way a company does the following—all to cultivate a certain image in consumers' minds:
Beyond saving the company money on promotion, a successful brand can be one of the company's most valuable assets. Brand value is intangible, making it difficult to quantify. Still, common approaches take into account the cost it would take to build a similar brand, the cost of royalties to use the brand name, and the cash flow of comparative unbranded businesses.
A full SWOT analysis that includes the entire firm—a look at the company's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats—is a proven way to help managers understand their situation so they can better determine their goals and the steps required to achieve them.
The brand identity should help fulfill these goals. For example, if an automaker is pursuing a niche luxury market, its ads should be crafted to appeal to that market. They should appear on channels and sites where potential customers are likely to see them.
A company needs to create a consistent perception, rather than trying to combine every conceivable positive trait: utility, affordability, quality, nostalgia, modernity, luxury, flash, taste, and class. All elements of a brand, such as copy, imagery, cultural allusions, and color schemes, should align and deliver a coherent message.
Building a brand identity is a multi-disciplinary strategic effort, and every element needs to support the overall message and business goals. It can include a company's name, logo, and design; its style and the tone of its copy; the look and composition of its products; and, of course, its social media presence. Apple founder Steve Jobs famously obsessed over details as small as the shade of gray on bathroom signs in Apple stores. While that level of focus may not be necessary, the anecdote shows that Apple's successful branding is the result of intense effort, not serendipity.