Creating a brand identity is relatively easy. Theoretically, a person can create a company name, logo, site, social media accounts, and other digital assets in a matter of days. However, brand identity is something that is ultimately controlled by the company and at the subject of consumers when it’s all said and done. It’s something that’s more than the branding of the company but the personality, values, and positioning that ultimately makes the brand.
A brand identity is how a company wants to be viewed by consumers whereas its image is how it’s actually viewed. The goal of a company is to find overlap somewhere in the middle where its identity matches its image. A company can control its identity but has minimal control when it comes to its image. As a marketer, I have seen many celebrities and companies alike get “canceled” by consumers because their identity and image do not match up. No longer can companies “fake it until they make it” because consumers have access to more outlets of information that can easily make a company out for the fraud that it is.
For example, think about SeaWorld. Its parks were once at full capacity and it was known as a company that protected and studied marine life. In 1991, a SeaWorld trainer was killed after slipping into a pool containing three orcas, Tilikum, Haidi II, and Nootka IV. In 1999 and 2010, two other trainers were killed by one of the orcas from the original incident, Tilikum. It wasn’t until 2013 that a document of Tilikum and the unethical ways SeaWorld held orcas in captivity did the public start to have issues with SeaWorld. There was no longer overlap between what SeaWorld said they were and who the public saw them as. Since then, SeaWorld has tried to turn their brand around and ultimately, is a shell of the company they once were.
There are other companies that have experienced similar fates as SeaWorld and there are also companies who have managed to redeem themselves. The point remains is that your brand identity relies on your brand being 100% authentic and true to its core values all the time.