Difference Between Corporate Identity and Branding

Key Difference – Corporate Identity vs Branding

Corporate Identity and Branding are two concepts in marketing and identifying the difference between them is quite complex as both concepts are interconnected. However, we can distinguish them from certain parameters on the grounds of perception. The internal perception and external perception (customer view) provide clues to differentiate between these two marketing concepts. The key difference between corporate identity and branding is that corporate identity has an internal viewpoint while branding has an external viewpoint. Nowadays, many organizations spend on corporate identity to boost their branding. This includes non-governmental organizations too. Each firm might have its own specialty and should focus to highlight their strength as their appearance. This will help in a better customer perception. For example, Volvo had its specialty in heavy vehicles since their establishment in 1928. They translated this strength in making safer more durable cars which earned them a name as the safest vehicle in a customer viewpoint. With this brief, we will delve deeper into each concept.

What is Corporate Identity?

Corporate identity is associated with the look and feel of a business. This is an internal factor that exhibits the business to the outer world. Corporate identity can be defined as the overall image of a business entity in the minds of the diverse public, such as customers, investors, and employees. Usually, firms associate the corporate identity with branding of their products or services using trademarks. Corporate identity is often represented by a logo or a picture. For example, Volkswagen uses a circle with letters V and W. Pepsi uses a circle with three colors of red, white and blue. These logos help stakeholders to identify the company instantly.

Corporate identity should possess the characteristics of being unique, easily distinguishable from the identity of other businesses, focus on product and reflecting the vision of the firm. Corporate identity is a philosophy, where the customer believes that they have its ownership as they combine attributes with corporate identity to make different perceptions. Corporate identity helps organizations to reflect their introduction and focus more easily. For example, if you see a curved red color “m”, you immediately associate it with a burger outlet run by McDonalds. Corporate identity has explicit guidelines associated with them. These guidelines govern how the identity is applied. Few examples are color palettes, typefaces and page layouts.

difference between corporate identity and branding

Logo of Volkswagen

What is Branding?

While corporate identity is all about the look and feel of a business, branding is related to emotion, trust, and reliability in the mindset of customers. Branding is all about how people feel and think about the company or simply how they perceive the organization. Branding can evoke various emotions such as confidence, trust, happiness, anger, etc. This is because of the experience associated with the organization. The corporate identity plays a role in deciding the reaction of the perceives, as corporate identity is associated with the firm to the customer experience.

Branding can be defined as the external perception of stakeholders of the firm in relation to their experience with the given firm. The brand is a collective perception of various factors. The lived experience of the brand is very important. Further, advertising campaigns can play a crucial part in making the customers believe in the contents of the message which reflects the brand. If the promise can be delivered in the first interaction, the brand will have a positive effect. Branding ultimately determines whether a customer becomes loyal to a firm due to the experience – perception factor. For example, BMW can be your first car, but it is the brand (experience) that will decide whether it will be your life long choice.

Key Difference Corporate identity vs. branding

What is the difference between Corporate Identity and Branding?

As we have a general understanding of the concepts of corporate identity and branding, let’s shift our focus towards the differences between them.

Definition of Corporate Identity and Branding

Corporate Identity: Corporate identity can be defined as “the overall image of a business entity in the minds of the diverse public, such as customers, investors, and employees”.

Branding: Branding can be defined as “the external perception of stakeholders of the firm in relation to their experience with the given firm”.

Characteristics of Corporate Identity and Branding

Perceptional Orientation

Corporate Identity: Corporate identity is outward looking with an internal viewpoint. The meaning of corporate identity is a distinction created by the firm for their stakeholders to instantly identify the company; for example, a logo. This reflects what the organization wants other to perceive, which is what meant by internal viewpoint.

Branding: Branding is inward looking with the external viewpoint. The customers are not the immediate organization; they are external stakeholders. Their viewpoint is aimed towards the organization’s performance or experience they provide the customers.

Decisive Factors

Corporate Identity: Corporate identity is a reflection of the market differentiation of organization through trademarks and logo. Corporate identity is associated with the look and feel of the business.

Branding: Branding is a reflection of customer experience. Branding is related to emotions such as trust, reliability, anger, happiness, etc.


Corporate Identity: Corporate identity incorporates guidelines in copying and using the trademarks and logos.

Branding: Branding is not associated with guidelines and purely reflects the customer perception towards the organization.

Though, both corporate identity and branding seem the same actually they denoted different marketing concepts. We have seen such distinguishing factors in between them as above.


Image Courtesy:
“Volkswagen logo” by kein Urheber – Own work. (Public Domain) via Wikimedia Commons 
“Hierarchy of corporate brand values” by Ged Carroll (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr