The primary difference between a brand and a company is that a brand represents the identity of a business or product line, while a company represents the business itself as an organization.
However, the two terms can sometimes be used interchangeably, so it’s important to understand where they intersect and where they diverge. In this post, we explore the key differences between brand and company to help you differentiate the two.
The Main Difference Between Brand And Company
A company is an organizational entity, which is typically formed for the purposes of profit or non-profit activities. A brand is the look, feel and persona of a company, represented by marketing elements such as a logo, website design and copywriting.
In a moment, we’ll unpack each of these terms in greater detail. But let’s start with the basic definitions:
- Definition of company: Merriam-Webster defines the word company as “an association of persons for carrying on a commercial or industrial enterprise.”
- Definition of brand: Merriam-Webster defines the word brand as “a public image, reputation, or identity conceived of as something to be marketed or promoted.”
See the difference? A company is an entity that conducts business, whereas the brand is the identity of that business or its products.
Now, let’s break down each one to make it even clearer.
What is a Brand?
To understand the difference between brand and company, it helps to first understand the purpose of branding and why companies use it.
Without branding, a company is a faceless entity. Businesses that do not create a brand have little appeal to customers, because there is no way to differentiate the products or services from other company’s offerings. In contrast, a well-branded company stands out from its competition and creates an emotional connection with customers.
Examples of Brand Elements
We’ve established that a brand is the identity of a company or product. Branding is what gives a company a distinctive look and voice. This is achieved by marketing and brand elements, such as:
- Logo design
- Color schemes
- Website design
- Printed marketing materials, such as brochures
- Marketing content, copy and messaging
Each of these elements plays a role in affecting how a customer feels about a brand. For example, a brand like Olive Garden uses an inviting script typeface in its logo with a touch of greenery to differentiate its restaurants as casual, inviting places to enjoy fresh food. All of the other elements in Olive Garden’s marketing, such as the writing on its website, help to reinforce that identity. Indeed, even the architecture and physical elements inside Olive Garden’s restaurants are strategically designed to reinforce its branding.
What is a Company?
In terms of the difference between a brand and a company, a company is simply the organization itself and/or all its internal activities, staff and assets. On a fundamental level, a company is defined by its organizational formation under the laws and protocols of local government (typically at the state level in the United States).
However, a company can have its own internal branding as well, comprised of things like:
- Company mission statements and vision
- Company values
- Employee handbooks and codes of conduct
- Employee perks and benefits packages
All of these items help to define the company as employees perceive it on an internal level. Employees may not actively think of their workplace as a “brand,” but all those internal initiatives play a role in how personnel feel about their employer and whether they enjoy coming to work every day.
Another Interesting Difference Between Brand And Company
Here’s where it gets interesting.
As we mentioned above, sometimes the terms brand and company are used interchangeably. That’s especially true within the corporate world, where large companies are conglomerates of smaller companies that are often referred to as brands.
Confused? Here’s a simple example.
Johnson & Johnson is a massive, multinational pharmaceutical company headquartered in the United States. While Johnson & Johnson has its own corporate branding, it is also made of numerous other well-known brands, such as:
Consumers don’t necessarily even associate these products with Johnson & Johnson, because each one uses its own distinct branding. The same goes for a company like Toyota Motor Corporation, which makes vehicles under five different brands, each of which operates as a subsidiary company, such as Lexus.
Understanding the difference between a brand and a company is mostly a matter of understanding the role of marketing. Branding is what gives a company or its products a relatable persona in the eyes of its target customers. Creating an effective marketing strategy is vital to turning a company into a distinctive brand that is appealing to customers.
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