Branding v.s. Brand Identity

By August 11, 2015 Branding, Business, Design
Branding Vs. brand identity image.

I often address the brand development side of branding our businesses and leave the brand design content to the other amazing design bloggers out there, but when Connor came to me with this guest post idea, I loved it. Branding your business and designing your brand’s visual identity are two separate steps in your overall brand experience. Understanding how they differentiate while also how dependent they are upon one another in order to convey consistency and clarity behind a brand is crucial.

As a brand designer and developer, this is my main job. Helping you create a brand that not only looks like you, but feels, acts, and sounds like you too.

I am so excited to welcome fellow designer, Connor Kaylin. She too specializes in helping small businesses identify their unique voice and tone of their brand through the partnership of the visual and internal elements of their business.

*NOTE: Since the publishing of this post, Connor has closed her design business to complete her college education. 

Branding v.s. Brand Identity

The creative partnership between your brand’s experience and your brand’s visual identity.

Often times branding and brand identity are assumed to be synonymous. While they work together, they are very different. Branding and establishing brand identity for your blog/ business is one of the most exciting parts of the equation! You have the power and privilege to set the tone for what others will feel while interacting on your site as well as their user experience! When establishing your business’ brand as well as its brand identity, incorporating stunning photos and elegant typography won’t be the sole contributing factors to determine whether or not you’ve built a strong brand and an experience users will want to relive again and again. In order to build a genuine, organic, one-of-a-kind brand and establish an identity that has longevity, it all starts with a foundation. YOU!

Throughout this post we’ll talk about the differences between branding as well as brand identity and how you: creative spirit, entrepreneur, empowered genius, can incorporate yourself into your brand!


Branding consists of the core values, dreams and vision you have for your business! Think of it as the manifestation of the framework you’ve created for how your business will be perceived. When people think of branding they automatically think, “Oh it’s how my business looks.” That is true, but there is far more to branding than just the visual aspect. It’s your business message, content, style, elements, products, etc. Branding can even go as far as to describe the types of words you use! It’s a very multifaceted process. It is crucial that your brand serve as an authentic, organic, and raw reflection of who you are and what your business represents! So now the question becomes, “How can I incorporate myself into my brand?” I’m glad you asked.

Exercise: Ask yourself the following questions…

  1. What do I envision for my blog?
  2. How do I want my blog to be perceived?
  3. What is it that keeps people wanting to come back to my blog?
  4. How can I incorporate being of service to others in my brand?
  5. What is my blogs message and how can I make sure I’m staying true to my message?

My personal example: 


My goal/vision/dream is to make my mark on this world. I can incorporate that same goal into my brand. We are all our own person. We come from different walks of life. We speak different languages. We believe different things. Because of the combination of characteristics, qualities and experiences, no two people are alike which means we all of something amazing, raw and organic to offer! Connor Kaylin can make it’s mark, by providing a different perspective, striving to be of service to others, providing quality experience and products to help enhance the business’ of others, amongst other things!

Brand Identity:

Brand identity refers to what we see and what we feel. Think of it as the visuals and packaging. The manifestation of qualities. They are the visual components that help to piece together the users experience. So what exactly does brand identity include? Things like color palate, various patterns, typography, shapes, logos, as well as other graphic elements are all apart of the big brand identity picture.

Let’s do an exercise!

Think of popular brand McDonalds. What color is the logo? Yellow. The color yellow evokes certain responses. Things that come to mind are bright, sunny, energetic, warm, happy, perky, joy and lively to name a few. This is an example of brand identity.

Branding v.s. Brand Identity with Connor Kaylin on Julie Harris Design


One more time?

Think of popular brand Starbucks. What color is the logo? Green and White. The colors green and white evoke certain responses. For white: peace, sterile, simplicity, surrender, cleanliness and purity. As for green: life, environment, crisp, fresh, money, health and harmony. This too represents brand identity.

Branding v.s. Brand Identity with Connor Kaylin on Julie Harris Design

Now that we’ve gone over a few examples of brand identity let’s really break this down:


  • Who you are.
  • How you present yourself.
  • What you think about yourself.

When establishing your brand’s identity it’s important that you take into account who you are, how you present yourself and what you think about yourself personally. By taking the time to sit down and thoroughly think through your own identity, making your brand’s identity reflect your own, becomes seamless.

Using myself as an example with Connor Kaylin:

Branding V.S. Brand Identity. The difference between branding you business and deigning your visual brand identity with Connor Hollis on Julie Harris Design

I chose to use blue as the primary color featured in the logo and a copper finish for the dandelion. The colors collectively evoke creativity, stimulates productivity, relaxes customers, encourages balance, and life just to give you an idea. All of which are things that I embody in my personal life. I like organization and calm cool colors. My house is even painted as such, as is my wardrobe.

I believe strong brands require a strong foundation. Make sure you take the time to think about how you’d like to incorporate yourself into your brand, the experience you want to create for your customers and how you want your brand to make them feel. If you need to pause and take a minute to reflect, do so! There’s no need to rush. (It’s called a journey and not a race for a reason!) I’ll always encourage you to: Be brave. Take chances. Stay true to who you are. Seek to serve others!

Remember, we’ll be standing behind you cheering you on!


This is a subject that is near and dear to my heart. I have a whole library of free resources designed and developed for entrepreneurs, small businesses, and bloggers working to articulate and define their brand and visual identity. From worksheets to style guides, take advantage of my resource library right here on Julie Harris Design.

Julie Harris Design Free Resources

When it comes to defining your own brand, where do you have the most trouble? Is it finding your voice? Branding your visuals? Articulating your mission, vision, and values? What can Connor and I do to help you find the confidence and clarity in your brand, experience or identity, that will help lead you toward success?

Let us know in the comments below!


Julie & Steve signature. & Connor

Your BBF’s

(your branding best friends) 

Photo Credit: © via Death To Stock PhotoStarbucks Logo ImageMcDonalds Logo Image.


PHOTO CREDIT: © Dollar Photo Club


If you enjoyed this post, definitely check out some of these other blog favorites that you might also enjoy. 

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Julie Harris

About Julie Harris

Julie Harris is the founder and lead designer of Whiskey & Red. Based out of Woodland Park, Colorado, Whiskey & Red specializes in small business branding and WordPress website design. They collaborate with small business owners, at all levels of industry, helping them translate their offline business into an online digital experience.


  • Thank you so much Julie for allowing me to guest post! I hope your readers are blessed by the article!

    • Julie Harris says:

      Thank YOU so much Connor for this beautiful article. You did such an eloquent job at articulating the creative partnership that is branding and brand identities. This is a huge part of building a business and understanding the importance of both elements is crucial. Thank you so much again for your wonderful contribution.

  • I’m fairly new to the whole concept of branding and establishing a brand identity. I’m still trying to apply these concepts to my own blog. Thanks, Julie and Connor, for making it clearer and easy to understand.

    • Julie Harris says:

      Thank you so much Julianne for taking the time to read Connor’s brilliant post. She did such an amazing job of articulating the differences between branding and a brand’s visual identity and the importance of the partnership they play together in establishing our professional creditability. This is a tough subject for a lot of people. The visual stuff always looks so fun, but can feel so empty with out the other side to balance and support it. I am so glad you found this post so helpful.

  • love these tips and advice! currently working on a rebrand and needed this to really ensure i do it right thank you!

    • Julie Harris says:

      Thank you so much Nicole! Connor did such a beautiful job of explaining the differences between both sides of our brands and how to unite them together to create one cohesive brand experience that looks, acts, sounds, and feels just like us. I am so happy you found this post so helpful. Good luck with your rebrand!!

  • Christian H says:

    This is the most helpful blog article that I have read. Thank you.

    • Julie Harris says:

      Awww Christian! Thank you so much. I am so happy you found this post so helpful. I so agree. Connor’s points were all so spot on and understandable. She is such a brilliant designer and I was thrilled to welcome her to my blog. Thank you so much for stopping by!

  • Hi there!

    I just found your article on branding vs. brand identity, and it’s interesting to differentiate between the two. I am a photographer based out of Minneapolis and I have had only one website in my career, and I have never marketed! For the first MANY years, I didn’t even have a site, and I’ve been shooting for 15 years… SO, I’ve been shooting all summer for a new site, and I’ve started the process of working with a designer. We did a first round and I’m not that excited about the options, and I really can’t articulate the direction I would like to go in other than “simple and modern.” My old site is more design heavy and I want this one to be simple and more about the photos. I have no idea if you have any encouragement or resources, but I thought I would just write and say hi and almost a little bit of, “help!” It’s quite overwhelming as I’m more of a process oriented creative vs. a spontaneous idea person. I’m going to look at the branding resources you liked to and see if that helps. Thanks! ~ Jayme

    • Julie Harris says:

      Hi Jayme, I am so happy you stumbled my way. Connor did an excellent job articulating the relationship between both your brand and your brand’s identity and their partnership in creating your brand’s experience. I work with many professionals who have built successful businesses for years and never really explored the deeper branding elements of their business. But the good part about starting now is that you have all those years of experience behind you to grow from. I use Pinterest and create “secret” boards to collect images, websites, textures, patterns, examples etc into one place to share with designers and clients so we are all on the same page and understand what we’re talking about. Definitely check out my Resources page for free tools and tips on building up your brand. I wish you the best!

      • Jayme says:

        Hi Julie!

        I have to apologize, I recently just got some notifications that there were new posts on this thread, but I never saw one that you had responded to me! So I’m sorry that I didn’t respond but I didn’t know it was here! I’ll have to revisit the article and I remember exploring some of the resources but I’ll have to take another look. I started using Pinterest when I began working with my designer, and the first person got too busy and backed out, and now I’m on to a second graphic designer who is even further off the mark… both friends that I’m doing trades with so I’m thinking I might have to bite the bullet and find someone that I really like their style of and pay for it. I don’t want that to sound cheap, but I spent a lot of money on a Livebooks site, and then a photo consultant, and had both of these friends approach me as they were looking for photography, so I was thinking it would be great to get away with not having to pay for it, but, it’s looking like I need to explore that area which is daunting in it’s own right! So wish me luck and I’ll snoop around your site some more! :^)

  • Mo says:

    Thank you for sharing. My business is a apparel company for those going “Against the Flow”, but my concern and question is: does the slogan “Against the Flow” communicate the idea of my brand well? Or should I change the slogan to something else? Perhaps “Against the Quo”? Your thoughts are much needed and appreciated. Thank you.

    • Julie Harris says:

      Thank you so much for stopping by Mo. You just described your brand as an apparel company going against the flow, so I guess, not knowing anything about your brand at all, I would have to ask more questions about what kind of flow you are talking about. Both “flow” and “quo” are very vague, and essentially mean the same thing, but you’re just using a different word. I generally don’t recommend using abbreviated words as well in taglines, so that way you don’t leave room for confusion in what your meaning might be. Right now, the slogan lets me know not to expect your “traditional” apparel, which I think is your goal, but I don’t know what more that might mean. This can be good since it could spark more questions about your brand and allow for an extended dialogue, or it might come across a vague and result in low client trust. A slogan on it’s own is a great segway into a deeper discussion, but it’s how it’s paired with all the other elements of your brand that will help it find it’s strength and clarity. I apologize for not being more specific, but I hope my feedback is helpful! Great question!

  • Tamirria says:

    Yes this did help me quite a bit. Next step is Logo creating for me

  • Daniel says:

    You have a wonderful blog here, I’m loving the color pallete. You did a great job.


  • yolonda says:

    Awesome article it really help me to put things in a better perspective. I am trying to come up with a logo for my business that truly says…You can be You. Again, this hit the nail on the head and I really appreciate you for sharing.

    • Julie Harris says:

      Thank you so much Yolanda for stopping by. I am so glad you found so much clarity in this post. There really is so much more to branding than just a logo. The relationship between your brand and brand identity is so important. Once you get them right, everything else will fall into place. Good luck with the design of your own logo!

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  • Mary says:

    Extremely informative article right there. I love the way you talked about ones blog as a brand. Most of the time we assume that branding is for organizations and companies. Thanks.

    • Julie Harris says:

      Thank you so much Mary! YES!! Branding is truly for everyone, and not just big companies or businesses. Even for employees who work as consultants or distributors of bigger brands like MaryKay or big Realtor business can brand themselves in order to stand out from all the others in their filed while still staying true to their main companies. Branding is all about making deliberate choices that effect the way you make people feel when they do business or work with you. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with us.

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