A brand CULTURE is an explanation of the "WHY" of a product. Why does the brand act as it does? Why do we intrpret it as we do? The brand culture defines the values of a brand. Brand IDENTITY is an explanation of the "WHO" of a product. "Who are we?" Are we good, are we bad, just who are we? This explains a brand's identity. The brand culture is a set of VALUES that bind a customer to a product.
Many marketers feel that a brand's identity and culture are the same. I feel that they are in absolute contrast and this contrast must be understood to create a brand in a social media era. In a social media era, there is a proliferation of products. Branding is the only way that a social media marketer can create a clear cut difference between products. Branding uses identity and culture to do this.
This contrast is very technical but the contrast must be understood in order for a marketer to create a brand. At first observation, it may seem these two concepts are the same. Or, if they are not the same, they are so similar that trying to find a difference is a waste of time. In very simple terms, a brand's identity explains who it is. A brand's culture explains WHY it is like it is. The culture explains why a brand acts as it does.
A way to explain this technical, but real difference is through observing the movie, "A Few Good Men." The court scene is riveting. In simple terms, US Marines are trained to be strong war fighters. This is their identity. They are trained well. This training has given a US Marine strong power. The culture of the Marines demands that this power be used properly. The culture of the Marines is that their war making skills are designed to uphold and protect the weak. The most suspenseful part of the movie is the end when the charged Marines are found guilty. When I saw this movie in a theater, the crowd gave out a collective gasp. The audience could not understand why the Marines were not found innocent. The guilty marines did not up up the culture of the Marines.
From the court room testimony, it would seem that these men were innocent. They were found guilty because the culture of the Marines is that the weak should be protected.
This is an example of how a modern brand identity and brand culture work together to brand a product. In this instance, the identity of the Marines is that they are war fighters. This answers the "who" question. Upholding the weak, this answers the question why question. The brand of the Marines is that they are war fighters (identity) — why —- to up the weak (brand culture).