You might identify a Ming dynasty vase, a suspect in a bank robbery, or an ivory-billed woodpecker. Whatever it is, when you recognize the identity of someone or something, you identify it.
The word identify is easy to . . . well . . . identify when you notice how much it looks like the word identity (a noun, meaning who or what something is). Only one consonant separates the two words in spelling ("f" v. "t"), and they are close relatives in meaning as well. You can easily remember the meaning of identify, a verb, when you recognize that it’s just a way to express the act of establishing identity — in other words, saying who or what something is.