A brand's identity is what the consumer sees first and makes snap judgments about. It is what the consumer feels when a certain products' advertisement is displayed in a magazine or played on a commercial. It is how the company's website is received before it is used to find information or make purchases. The popular saying "Don't judge a book by its cover" is fine in theory, but it is not very realistic pertaining to brand. People initially judge everything by its cover; cover meaning its face, face meaning its brand identity. Designers play a critical role in making this "cover" as appealing as possible.

A business's identity is who that business is. It is how they want to be perceived by the consumer, who that consumer is, and how they want to market to that consumer. The job of the business is to effectively convey this identity to the consumer so that the consumer's perception of the company matches that of the company's.

The consumer's perception of the company is that company's brand. Brand is not what you say it is. It is what they say it is (Neumeier 2003). A brand message cannot be forced onto the consumer because that consumer will form his or her own opinions based on knowledge gained from various sources; sources like brand marks, advertisements, and websites which are all used to influence a consumer's perception of the business. Word-of-mouth and consumer reviews are also examples of elements that can influence a consumer, but companies rarely have control of these methods.

A business's brand identity is the tangible expression of its desired brand, its identity. A brand's identity system consists of things like the aforementioned brand mark, websites, and packaging. A brand's identity is what the consumer sees, touches, or hears. The business wants the consumer to form a perception of the company, based on experiences with these elements, that matches its identity, and therefore shapes its brand.