What is Branding?
Seems like a simple question but Brand and Branding can be a confusing thing to understand.
Most people can name you a list full of ‘brands’ they know and love but when it comes to actually defining what a brand is, it’s not so easy. A simple search on Google brings up multiple definitions, there’s so many it becomes difficult to digest. To begin to understand what a brand is, you must first understand what it isn’t. Is it not company, a product, an attitude, and is definitely not a logo.
History of branding
Originally branding was a mark of ownership stamped onto cattle to identify their owner. Today Brand is often defined as a name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one company’s goods or services from another.
However, a brand is way more than that, a brand lives and breathes in the minds and hearts of your customers. A brand is a customer’s gut feeling about a company, product, service or individual (Marty Neumeier) – the psychological and physical associations in their minds. A brand is like a reputation for a person, it’s what people say about you when you are not in the room. (Jeff Bezos)
Brand ONLY exists in the minds of your customers, it’s how one customer will describe your brand to another. And you have to earn it! Companies can only influence the customers impression. What you do to influence your customer’s perception of your business is called branding.
A brand is no longer what we tell the customer it is, it is what customers tell each other it is. (Scott Cook)
Branding is important because it can transform people’s perception of you. When people hear the word branding, most think ‘visual identity’ – logo, colour and packaging. It’s much more than that. Branding isn’t just the ‘clothes you wear’ but crucially also your personality and morals too. All these parts come together to form your projection to the world.
The key ingredients to any brand
There are four distinct parts to a brand. These include; brand materials, brand traits, brand values, and brand promise. Each of these touch points shape the customers experience of your brand which in turn impacts their perception of your business.
These are the things you say, things you do and things you make. They are tangible items you put out into the world to represent your brand (visual identity). Think of them as the smart suit you wear to look good. Brand materials can include logos, colours, websites, flyers, packaging, advertising etc.
They are the unique characteristics of your brand. This is how things feel, look and sound.
Like your own personal values, brand values are a set of guiding principles that you care about, the people you care about and the problems you care about.
This is a commitment, whether written or unspoken, that you make to customers. It identifies what they should expect from all interactions with your people, products, services and company.
Your brand is important to your business no matter the size of a company, branding can;
- Improve recognition
- Creates trust
- Generates new customers
- Build value (financial and emotional)
- Inspire employees
- Help generate referrals
- Provide clarity and focus
- Set you apart from the competition
- Above all, Branding generates sales = Money
Marty Neumeier says the goal of branding is simple: ‘To delight customers so that more people buy more things for more years at a higher price’.
So to conclude:
What is Brand? – The perceived emotional image in your customer’s mind.
What is Branding? The things you do to influence your customer’s perception of your brand.
What is Brand Identity? – The materials that form part of the overall brand.
What is a logo? – A logo identifies a business in its simplest form via the use of a mark or icon.
We hope this helped clear up the confusion around brand and branding… We’ll be introducing a series of blogs, each covering the various touch points we have mentioned.
In the meantime though, if you have a burning question about your brand then feel free to ask us, or you can check out some of our recent brand projects we’ve helped our clients with.