What is a brand and branding?

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The words ‘brand’ and ‘branding’ are often used interchangeably, and though they are interrelated they have very distinct meanings.

Definition of ‘brand’

A brand is what people think and feel about a product, service, experience or organisation.

It’s a person’s mental file of everything about your business or products and services – their collection of images, experiences, emotions and senses.

For example, if I say ‘Coca-Cola’, certain images and thoughts will flash through your mind and feelings will be conjured. The colour red. The white flowing logo. Coke is life. Fun and happiness. Young people at the beach in the sun. Classic Coke. Coke Zero. Perhaps you crave a caffeine hit. Or a bourbon and coke. Or maybe your thoughts are negative – it’s unhealthy, rots your teeth, you don’t want your kids drinking it. Whatever you think and feel is what the Coca-Cola brand means to you.

Your brand won’t appeal to everyone, and that’s fine. Unless of course your target audience has negative brand perceptions – then you need to do some work!

The collective perceptions of your business/product/service by the public is your broader brand reputation.

Definition of ‘branding’

Branding is the practice of getting people to think or feel a certain way about your brand.

It’s about how you present and position your business to differentiate it, stand out and attract the right customers. It’s the work you do to build your business presence and reputation. Branding is crucial part of your business.

Elements of branding

This infographic above illustrates the various elements of branding – all the areas you need to consider to get your brand on target.

First and foremost your branding stems from your vision and values – why you are in business, and how you do business. It’s defined by your positioning and how you differentiate your business from competitors, the unique features that make your business stand out. It links to your business personality, guiding how you speak, behave and look. It’s shaped by the type of products and services you offer, and the experience customers and stakeholders have when dealing with you and the relationships you build with them.

At the heart of your brand is an identifiable logo, combined with a strong visual identity (colour palette, graphics, typography, imagery and style). The visual components need to be aligned with your brand voice (tagline, key messages, writing style and vocabulary) across your communication touchpoints.

Branding and small business

Branding is often overlooked and underestimated by small businesses. But strong, aligned branding gives you a competitive advantage. It will help your business to:

  • stand out in the clutter and noise

  • maintain consistency, authenticity and clarity

  • look and sound trustworthy and legitimate.

If you need help with your small business brand, please get in touch with me.

Nichole Maybury