What is Brand Identity?

Building a brand is about developing an identity. For both an individual and a brand, identity is the answer to the key question: “Who am I?”



What is (your) Brand Identity? Image source: 18percentgrey / Shutterstock.


Brand identity is a detailed blueprint of brand meaning that determines precisely (1.) what managers want their brand to stand for and (2.) how they would like it to be perceived by customers and other internal and external stakeholders. It covers all kinds of thoughts and associations that may influence people’s opinions about a brand (see also Aaker, 2010; Heine, 2018; Kapferer, 2012). It encapsulates who you are, why you exist, what you believe, what you do, and how you communicate. Brand identity planning helps to create your brand’s unique fingerprint to give it an aura and soul, and a personality all of its own (Upshaw, 1995).


A brand’s identity is usually outlined in a central document that is known as the brand platform, brand handbook, or brand guidelines. Every company, no matter their size and no matter what industry they are in, should have a brand platform. It will be your constant companion to build and grow your brand. It ensures that everyone in your company knows what your brand is about – and it also helps to explain your brand to agencies and other external partners.


How do strong Brands express their Identity?

Dior 'Secret Garden' is a great example of an identity campaign:


From high fashion to Dr. Martens. Their boots were popular among skinheads and punks. This may not be your crowd - but the brand's advert below makes it more than clear: They stand for something.



To better understand what Brand identity is about, it helps to compare it with what it’s not:













Source: Heine, K. (2019) How to Build a Brand to Change your World. Upmarkit: Tallinn.

Aaker, D. A. (2010) Building Strong Brands. Simon & Schuster: London; Heine, K., (2018) Identity-driven Luxury Brand Management. In: Berghaus, B., Müller-Stewens, G. & Reinecke, S. (2017) The Management of Luxury. Kogan Page: London; Kapferer, J.-N. (2012) The New Strategic Brand Management. 4th ed., Kogan Page: London;

Image source: 18percentgrey / Shutterstock.