What is Branding? (The Definition, Common Misconceptions, & more)

Branding is a term that can get thrown around a lot. It is a very big topic, and because of that, there are some misconceptions around this topic. Let me break it down for you in the simplest terms possible. I’m going to define what a brand really is, as well as the process knows as branding. But first, we need to talk about what a brand is not.

Watch the video:

What a Brand is Not

A Brand is not Logo Design

A logo is part of your company’s branding, but it is not a brand

A Brand is not interchangeable with the term Company

Your company is not a brand, you company has a brand

A Brand is not the same as Marketing

Though branding is closely associated with marketing, I would say branding is the precursor to marketing. In order to have really effective marketing, you need to first concentrate on branding

Marketing can also help to further establish your brand, but it in itself is not your brand.

What is Branding?

A brand can best be defined a “…a person’s gut feeling about a product, service or company. You can’t control the process, but you can influence it.”
(Marty Neumeier, The Brand Gap)

If that is the definition of a brand, then…

The definition of branding is the process of influencing your target customer’s “gut feeling” about your business.

So the key here is that you need to realize you don’t have complete control over your brand, but it is your job to be proactive to influence it.

To illustrate this, take a look these examples of two very prominent brands. What comes to mind when you see these images?

First of all, notice that you probably already recognize this brand as the company Apple just from the logo mark.

Did you think of Innovation? Technology with Sleek Design? Trust? Expensive?

How about this one…

Maybe what comes to mind is fun memories of you or your child getting a happy meal or playing on the jungle jim at McDonalds. Maybe you think of Fast or Convenience? Or maybe you think of unhealthy food and artificial ingredients.

The point is that the feelings associated with a brand can be powerful, whether positive or negative. And it is also something that can vary from person to person.

The Goal of Branding

By branding your company, your goal should be to:

1. Invoke Positive Feelings

The most obvious purpose of branding is to help leave a good impression on your target customer when they interact with your company.

2. Invoke the Right Feelings

You not only want to leave a good impression, but the right impression of your company. For example, If you are selling a high-end product or service, but outsiders perceive you a as the cheap, budget solution, that is a result of poor branding.

3. Positioning

Branding helps you position yourself correctly in the marketplace. which again is positioning yourself so that your marketing efforts are effective

4. Recognition

By working to establish your brand early on and by remaining consistent over time, eventually, you develop brand recognition.

The Process of Branding

If branding is about influencing someone’s gut feeling about your business, there are countless ways to do that. But I try and focus on three aspects that I believe are most important: Brand Attributes, Brand Messaging, & Brand Identity.

1. Brand Attributes

Developing brand attributes is about defining your brand.

I always kick off a branding project with a Brand Strategy Session. In this meeting, we spend about an hour developing these brand attributes. This includes your culture, your tone-of-voice, your impact, and more.

Oftentimes for the business owner, these things are swirling around in their head – I’m mostly there to ask the right questions and help them articulate the brand they are trying to create.

Brand Attributes are crucial to establishing who you are as a company, and it is intentionally the first step of the process because it also helps me in developing the other two aspects of their brand:

2. Brand Messaging

Unfortunately, many business owners have trouble communicating clearly to their target customer. I get it – when you’re so focused on the nitty-gritty of your business, it’s easy to use jargon that your customer doesn’t understand. And it’s easy to focus on features, rather than the true value you offer.

Customers want to know how you can help them solve their problem or “pain point.” So I help you to clearly articulate your brand message. We integrate the elements of story based on the philosophy of StoryBrand, in which we help position you as a guide that helps the hero (your customer) achieve their happy ending. We look closely at the value you offer, taking into account both the internal and external motivations your customer has for needing your service.

For example, for my client Bright Smile Boutique, a teeth-whitening business in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, we realized that they weren’t merely selling teeth whitening. They were selling confidence. From this, we developed the tagline “Show the World Your Best Self”, and we further captured this through the website photography.

Check out this post to learn more details into our branding process working with Bright Smile Boutique.

3. Brand Identity

This is what most people think about when the hear the term branding. This is your company’s overall aesthetic.

Your logo design, typography, color palettes, photography, textures, and more are all elements that make up your Brand Identity. And of course, these get applied to you business cards, website, flyers, uniform, and much more.

Some people may write off a Brand Identity as “nice-to-have” rather than a necessity, but you shouldn’t underestimate the power of visual aesthetics. Contrary to what we were told when we were younger, we do judge a book by its cover.

So the goal of a brand identity is to show who you are as a company. It can help leave a good impression as well as the right impression.

It can also help you leave a lasting impression. By maintaining a consistent look-and-feel, can help you develop recognition for your brand over time.

At One Nine Pro, we are here to help entrepreneurs like you to reflect success in their brand and grow their business. If you are looking to brand or rebrand your business, we’d love to talk! Please get in contact with us for a free brand consultation.

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Headshot - Luke Seavers with One Nine Pro blue

Hey there, I'm Luke!

I love working with business owners and entrepreneurs to help them reflect success in their brand and grow their business. As someone who is passionate about my craft, it is my joy to empower you to pursue yours!

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