Brand Strategy vs Brand Identity

Brand Strategy, Brand Identity – these are buzzwords, right? In a sense, yes. It’s very easy to throw those terms around and not fully understand what they mean. So I’m here to help clarify.

Your business is one of a kind because nobody else is you. But how are you presenting yourself to the world? If you’re following along with what everyone else in your industry is doing, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Establishing a compelling brand presence and defining what makes you unique is what will drive customers to you instead of to your competitors.

Brand Strategy and Brand Identity are two concepts that are often used interchangeably, but they are different. However, to have a successful brand identity, you first need to have solid brand strategy. Understanding the differences between the two and how they work together provides a powerful foundation for your business.

Let’s take a look at each concept and why, when you hire a brand designer, you should be sure to find one that incorporates strategy.

What is Brand Strategy?

Brand Strategy is the all-encompassing, comprehensive plan that outlines how your brand will be positioned in the market and perceived by your target audience. It factors in both your short- and long-term goals and employs the tactics necessary to get there. In order to create a strong brand strategy, you first need to answer some questions about your business.

Brand Purpose

Why did you start your business, beyond the desire to make a profit? You saw a hole in the market for what you do and you started your business for a reason.

Target Audience

Who do you most want your brand to appeal to? Think about demographics, psychographics, and needs of your ideal client.

Market Positioning

How are you or how do you intend to position yourself in the market? Think about that specific hole in the market that you’re aiming to fill – what was it? And how are you different from your competitors?

Brand Values

What are the core principles and values that your business operates by? This is integral to how your brand behaves and makes decisions.

Brand Voice and Messaging

Do you want a more conversational tone? More formal and professional? The tone, style, and messaging is huge in determining how people perceive your brand.

Brand Experience

What kind of feeling do you want your customers to leave with? Are you a business that wants repeat customers? What will you offer in terms of experience that will keep them coming back for more?

Your Brand Strategy is essentially your blueprint for how your business is run. It provides a solid framework for your brand designer to turn that into visuals that tell your story.

What is a Brand Identity?

Your Brand Identity is everything that makes up your brand’s personality, which includes your brand strategy. However, it is much more common to see a brand identity as the visual aspect of a brand. Everything listed here has a huge impact on brand recognition and perception.


You probably do, but in case you don’t know what a logo is – it’s an icon that is more or less an ID card for your brand. With enough brand recognition, it’s what everyone will associate with your brand.

Color Palette

Using every color under the sun is not going to do you any favors in branding. Having a set selection of acceptable brand colors used across all mediums will help your brand to be more recognizable.


The same thing for colors goes for fonts, as well. Using too many different typefaces and being inconsistent is going to confuse people.


The photos, illustrations, and graphics that you use to represent your brand are just as important.

Design Elements

Design elements include things like icons, patterns, and layouts – other elements that people will recognize your brand for.

Brand Guidelines

This is essentially a book that tells you the rules about how to use all of the different elements of your brand in order to maintain consistency.

Your brand’s visual identity is the face of your brand. It’s what people see, recognize, and connect with initially. And, as mentioned above, it’s crucial for driving brand recognition.

How Brand Strategy and Brand Identity Intertwine

While your brand strategy may be the more abstract element of your brand, your visual identity needs to turn the abstract into tangible. How do they work together?

Guidance and Consistency

A solid brand strategy provides a well-structured framework for how your brand needs to be visually represented. Maintaining consistency between the visuals and strategy builds consumer trust.

Reinforcing Values and Positioning

Your brand identity visually communicates your values and positioning that are decided during your strategy call. For example, a luxury clothing brand may use an elegant typeface and sophisticated color palette to solidify their positioning in the luxury clothing market.

Creating Emotional Connection

There’s a lot of psychology that goes into colors and shapes, which determines how your brand is perceived. If you run a children’s learning center, your brand identity will likely have bright, bold colors and rounded shapes.

I find both color theory and shape language absolutely fascinating, and will likely do a future blog post about it. But if you can’t wait for that, check out this post about Color Theory and this article about Shape Language!

Adaptability and Growth

Starting your brand identity with a solid brand strategy ensures that your brand can evolve over time without losing its core essence. The visuals can adapt to new trends and market demands, but they can remain true to the brand’s foundation and goals.

Why You Want to Work With a Strategic Brand Designer

I mentioned earlier that Brand Strategy is a part of your brand identity, right? At least, it should be. If you’re in a position to hire a brand designer, ensure that whoever you go with is going to utilize your brand foundations and brand strategy within their design. Any brand designer worth their salt will have a strategy call with you early on in the process of working together, so that you can both (or all) be aligned on direction and goals.

Obviously, I can’t speak for all brand designers here – only myself. But in general, brand designers are wildly creative. When crafting a brand identity that’s rooted in strategy, there’s this unique connection that needs to form between the right and left sides of the brain. This connection may not be necessary in other design disciplines and is definitely not necessary in being a business owner. Someone may have an incredible mind for business and have zero idea of how to create visuals to best represent something.

The Best of Both Worlds

This is why I love being a brand designer. Growing up, I was always very creative, but also very logically inclined. Curating brands rooted in strategy is like solving a puzzle. All of the pieces need to fit just right, but I get to paint the picture.

By now I’m sure we’ve all heard about the two different ways of thinking – thinking in words vs thinking in images. I remember being flabbergasted that not everyone saw images in their head all the time. I feel like thinking visually lends itself extremely well to brand design, as my brain takes a concept – a word from paper or a screen – and forms images in my mind. And then I put those images to paper and tinker until things resonate just right.

I Currently Have Availability

I am currently booking for the next few months, so reach out and let’s get your new presence started! Whether you’re just starting out and you want to really get up and running on the right foot, or you’ve been in business for a while and are starting to really look toward the future, I can help you reach your goals.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *