Each brand has an identity. Brand identity can be visual and verbal. What are the differences between the two types of brand identity? Find it out in this post.
There is a concept that all of us, persons who work in the marketing field, must always have in mind. That concept is brand identity.
In this post, I’ll write about two types of brand identity: visual identity and verbal identity.
In order to explain the difference between them, I’ll take the brand “Mary Copyns” as an example. The brand was built by the Spanish copywriter, María Bolívar, a few years ago.
Note: María decided to change her brand identity about two years ago. However, since I fell in love with “Mary Copyns” when I first discovered it, I’ll use it here as an example, even though it no longer exists.
Would you like to know why I fell in love with the brand identity of “Mary Copyns”? Continue reading and find it out!
Table of Contents
What is brand identity?
In the first place, there are three essential aspects that we should have in mind when talking about any brand:
In this post, I’ll focus only on the first of them, brand identity.
However, before continuing, I’ll provide you with the definitions of the three terms, in case you don’t know their meaning:
Brand identity refers to the way we define a brand by materialising a set of behaviours or symbols and using them so that the target audience can recognise the brand in one way or another.Identity, image, reputation: a crucial tripod for the company, Patricia Sánchez Urrego, UPN Perú
Brand image is what brands project to others. It’s the way a brand’s identity becomes tangible to its target audience.Identity, image, reputation: a crucial tripod for the company, Patricia Sánchez Urrego, UPN Perú
Brand reputation is the result of branding activities. It’s composed of a number of “judgments” the target audience makes about the brand.Identity, image, reputation: a crucial tripod for the company, Patricia Sánchez Urrego, UPN Perú
What are the two types of brand identity?
Now, let’s focus on brand identity. There are two types of brand identity:
- Visual identity;
- Verbal identity.
These two types of brand identity differ from each other in terms of elements that compose them and the goals they meet.
Once upon a time, there was a copywriter
María Bolívar is a Spanish copywriter. A few years ago, colleagues spoke to me about María in superlatives. Thanks to those positive opinions, I decided to visit her website in spring 2018. Once on the website, I discovered her work and met “Mary Copyns”.
“Mary Copyns” was Maria’s brand at the time. It represented a clear association to the world’s best-known babysitter, Mary Poppins.
Visual identity: love at first sight
Visual brand 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. Besides, they must be in line with the guidelines established in the corporate identity manual.
ELEMENTS OF THE VISUAL BRAND IDENTITY:
- Corporate logo;
- Corporate colours;
- Corporate typefaces.
WHERE WE USE THE VISUAL ELEMENTS:
- Product design;
- 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 — visually recognise the brand, differentiate it from competing brands, and remember it.
Once upon a time, there was a brand
When I visited María Bolívar’s website for the first time, I remember numerous visual elements that were making reference to Mary Poppins.
For instance, the two colours were prevailing: purple and black. Moreover, there were umbrella icons all over the website, not to mention illustrations in the form of a bag. On top of it, in most of the images, María wore a black hat.
In summary, before visiting her website, María Bolívar was a copywriter in my eyes. But after having visited it, I stopped perceiving Maria (only) as a copywriter. She became a brand for me.
And, what’s more, I fell in love with “Mary Copyns” at first sight.
Verbal identity: love at first reading
Verbal brand identity is the verbal manifestation of brand identity. This type of identity is made of a combination of messages.
ELEMENTS OF VERBAL BRAND IDENTITY:
- Brand name;
- 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 the verbal brand identity is to help the target audience — customers, clients or consumers — to understand the messages that a brand formulates, remember them, and act according to those messages.
Once upon a time, there was a Brand
On María Bolívar’s website, I discovered different verbal elements that, just like the visual ones, were making reference to Mary Poppins. For instance, the name: “Mary Copyns”.
Besides the name, I remember the tagline “One word changes everything” and “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” web content.
Those elements allowed me to learn more about “Mary Copyns” and start forming an opinion about the brand. I perceived it as a fun, optimistic, and inspiring brand, a synonym of enthusiasm, curiosity, and desire to fly.
Moreover, I remember wanting to ask María the following three questions:
- Mary, how does compelling content you craft manage to raise “a sales umbrella”?
- What persuasion techniques do you hide under your hat?
- What does copywriting taste like when you add “a spoonful of sugar to it”?
In a nutshell, before visiting María Bolívar’s website, I heard a lot about her work regarding copywriting. But only after visiting her website and discovering its visual identity, I began to perceive María as a brand. Finally, thanks to the verbal identity elements, “Mary Copyns” switched from a brand to a Brand in my eyes.
From the visual to the verbal: from a brand to a Brand
So, when we talk about a brand, we should not forget the following three aspects: brand identity, brand image, and brand reputation.
If we focus on the first aspect, there are two types of brand identity: visual identity and verbal identity.
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 to a Brand.
To sum up, it’s undoubtedly important to working on brand identity because, whereas there are many copywriters, only a few can say they have appealing brands. Nevertheless, it’s a Brand — a Brand with the capital B — that you’ll fall in love with at first sight and first reading.
For me, “Mary Copyns” is that Brand.
And although “Mary Copyns” doesn’t live anymore on María’s website, I’m sure that the brand is still alive in all the content María crafts. It keeps flying, having fun, and inspiring.
Because that’s what Brands do.
A Writing-Friendly Question: Is there a brand whose identity you like a lot?