Each brand has its identity. Brand identity can be visual and verbal. What are the differences between those two identities? Find it out in this post.

Two brand identity types: visual identity and verbal identity

There is a concept that all of us, marketing professionals, must always have in mind. That concept is the brand.

In other words, we need to know brand elements, be aware of their importance, and train how to communicate them.

Due to the importance of branding in marketing, I’ve decided to introduce branding category to Writing-Friendly Blog. Today’s post is the first one that belongs to this category.

In this post, I’ll write about brand identity and its two types: visual identity and verbal identity.

To explain the difference between these two identity types, I’ll take a Spanish copywriter as a reference. Her name is María Bolívar, while her brand is Mary Copyns.

Note: María decided to change the brand identity about two years ago. However, since I fell in love with her brand when I first discovered it, I’ll use it as an example, everything and it no longer exists.

Would you like to know why I fell in love with María Bolívar’s brand identity? Continue reading and find it out!

What is brand identity

First of all, there are three aspects we should take into account when talking about a brand:

In this post, I’ll focus only on the first aspect, brand identity.

However, before continuing, I provide you with the definitions of the three terms, in case you don’t know their meaning:

The brand identity refers to the way we define a brand, materialising the set of behaviours or symbols and using these so that the target audience recognises the brand in one way or another.

Identity, image, reputation: a crucial tripod for the company, Patricia Sánchez Urrego, UPN Perú

The brand image is what a brand projects, the way its identity becomes tangible to the target audience.

Identity, image, reputation: a crucial tripod for the company, Patricia Sánchez Urrego, UPN Perú

The brand reputation is the result of branding activities, and it’s composed of value judgments the target audience makes about the brand.

Identity, image, reputation: a crucial tripod for the company, Patricia Sánchez Urrego, UPN Perú

Two brand identity types

Now let’s focus on brand identity. There are two identity types:

  • Visual identity
  • Verbal identity

These two identity types differ from each other in terms of:

  • Elements that compose them
  • Goals they meet

Mary Copyns: once upon a time, there was a copywriter

María Bolívar is the first Spanish copywriter about which people spoke to me in superlatives. Thanks to those positive opinions, I decided to visit her website for the first time in spring 2018. On the web, I discovered her work and met Mary Copyns.

Mary Copyns was Maria’s brand at the time. It represented a straightforward association with the world’s best-known babysitter.

GOAL: María Bolívar’s branding activities aimed to provide her with an appealing identity. That identity was Mary Poppins of Spanish copywriting.

Visual identity: love at first sight

This type of identity is the visual manifestation of the brand identity. It’s made of a combination of graphic elements.

These elements apply to all manifestations of the brand, according to the guidelines established in the corporate identity manual.

VISUAL ELEMENTS:

  • Corporate logo
  • Corporate colours
  • Corporate typefaces

WHERE WE USE THE VISUAL ELEMENTS:

  • Advertising
  • Product design
  • Packaging
  • Internal communication
  • External communication
  • Office supplies
  • Uniforms, etc.

GOAL: The goal of the visual brand identity is to help the target audience — customers or consumers — to recognise the brand visually, differentiate it from competing brands, and remember it.

Mary Copyns: once upon a time, there was a brand

When I first visited María Bolívar’s website, I remember visual elements that were referring to Mary Poppins.

For example, two colours prevailed: purple and black. There were umbrella icons all over the website, as well as illustrations in the form of a bag. Moreover, María wore a black hat in most of the images.

In conclusion, before visiting her website, María Bolívar was a copywriter for me. But after having visited it, I stopped perceiving Maria (only) as a copywriter. She became a brand.

And yes, I fell in love with Mary Copyns at first sight.

Verbal identity: love at first reading

This type of identity is the verbal manifestation of brand identity. It’s made of a combination of messages.

We strategically communicate brand messages, aligning them with the unique value proposition and brand personality.

VERBAL ELEMENTS:

  • Brand name
  • Tagline
  • Message matrix
  • Brand voice
  • Brand tone
  • Communication style guide

WHERE WE USE THE VERBAL ELEMENTS: We use the verbal elements of brand identity in the same contexts where we turn to the visual aspects.

GOAL: The goal of verbal brand identity is to help the target audience — customers or consumers — to receive messages from a brand, remember them, and act according to those messages.

Mary Copyns: once upon a time, there was the Brand

On the María Bolívar’s website, I also found different verbal elements that were referring to Mary Poppins. First of all, the name: Mary Copyns.

Besides the name, I remember the tagline “One word changes everything” and a “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” web content.

I learned even more about Mary Copyns from those elements. I saw her as fun, optimistic, and inspiring. The brand brought enthusiasm, curiosity, and the desire to fly.

Moreover, I remember wanting to ask her the following questions:

In summary, before visiting María Bolívar’s website, I knew her as a copywriter. After visiting it, the visual identity elements made me begin to perceive María as a brand. But thanks to the verbal identity elements, Mary Copyns switched from a brand to the Brand.

From the visual to the verbal: from a brand to the Brand

Now, let’s do a little review. When we talk about a brand, we must have in mind the following three aspects:

  • Brand identity
  • Brand image
  • Brand reputation

If we focus on the first aspect, there are two types of brand identity: visual and verbal. 

These two types differ from each other in terms of the elements that compose them and the goals they meet.

In the case of María Bolívar, the visual brand elements on her website made her switch from a copywriter to a brand. On the other hand, the verbal brand elements contributed to transforming from a brand into the Brand.

To sum up, working on brand identity is vital because there are many copywriters, but few brands. Nevertheless, you’ll fall in love at first sight and first reading only with the Brand.

For me, Mary Copyns is the Brand.

And although Mary doesn’t live anymore on the María’s website, I’m positive she’s still alive in María’s content. She keeps flying, having fun, and inspiring.

That’s what Brands do.

A Writing-Friendly Question: Is there a brand whose identity you like a lot?

Stasa Durdic

I'm a content writer, copywriter, and UX writer. Serbian by birth, in Barcelona by occasion, writer by decision. I'm in love with the yellow colour, the art of storytelling, and the following phrase from Don Draper (Mad Men): "The client loves to pay the media, and the CREATIVE loves the PENCILS."

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