Identity vs. Brand

I love everything about Geno’s tattoo — the design, the colors and the meaning: As I breathe, I hope.

Our roots as a company are in what a lot of marketing people would call “branding.” Brand is one those words that corporations love to hide behind. “It’s not ‘on brand,” is one of our least favorite terms on the planet.


We’ve always used the word  “identity,” because we feel that in finding your purpose in the world as a company – you unearth your soul. And when you put your very soul out there, you protect it, you value it and you draw kindred spirits near.

Your organization’s identity is so much more personal than a brand.

So what makes someone adopt an identity? Design and identity is part of what helps us make sense of the world we live in. It gives order to chaos. We are the collections of beliefs and values we are passionate about. Passionate people wear their beliefs on their sleeves.

Have you ever seen one of those cars that are literally covered with bumper stickers? It’s like the driver of that vehicle is an open book. Those bumper stickers shout out that the person inside is proud to be things like a lover of peace, goodwill and gay and animal rights.  You can feel the pride of these beliefs in the space of a short stoplight.

What makes us long to tell and show (in the case of a visual identity) the world about our passions?

A friend of ours left arm is completely filled with tattoos. Frankly, they are so beautiful and each element clearly stands for something he is passionate about that some people are, well, quite jealous.

When someone asked him about them one day, he in turn asked them this simple question: “What are you willing to commit to?” Don’t you love that? It’s true – ink on skin is a pretty big commitment.

So. What as a brand or a person are you will to commit to?

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