“It’s not what you say, it’s what you do.”

That timeless chestnut sums up the difference in the oft-confused branding jargon of “identity” and “image.” And, when it comes to successful branding, both parts play a key role in success.

The Brand Identity is what brand managers strategically define and plan what the brand is all about.

The Brand Image is formed out in the real world by customers, prospects, influencers and others based on their various interactions with the brand on various levels. A brand image — perception — is going to be formed whether a brand identity exists or not.

For those wanting to take control of their brand image and help to ensure the highest levels of success, planning a brand identity is required.

Developing the brand identity platform is a considered process, often involving many — and sometimes all — management functions behind the brand: R&D, operations, marketing, sales, finance, production, customer service, etc.

It’s where the brand vision and values are carefully defined. Where the differentiated competitive positioning and promises of benefits are crafted, relative to targeted audiences and their wants and needs. It’s where the persona and messaging points for the brand are defined. And, where the graphic system is developed.

All of this is the “say” part of the “say and do” equation. And, it’s vital to define this to ensure consistency in the way the brand is presented.

The brand identity is brought to life — and the brand image formed — through delivery of the various brand interactions (touch points). These should be methodically considered, prioritized relative to their ultimate role in driving the sale (new or repeat), and purposely managed to ensure that delivery is aligned with the brand identity across all interactions.

Delivery of these brand touch points is the “do” part of the “say and do” equation.

It’s this “doing” that will deliver the interactions that will lead your audiences to form their image of the brand and determine whether they ever buy from you (again) or move on to a competitive solution.

If sales are not what they should be, maybe it’s time to take a long look at your brand identity and existing brand image.

Is the brand identity in sync with your audiences’ wants and needs? If not, rethink the identity platform and make the changes needed.

Is there a disconnect between the brand identity and the actual brand image? If so, critically assess the various brand touch points to see where the problem is.

Brand identity is what you say. Brand image is formed as a result of what you do. Master both and you’ll master success. Need help? We’re happy to do so here at 34 North.