What is branding, anyway?
Branding is a term that gets thrown around often, especially in small business circles. It’s one of those words that’s used often but never clearly defined.
Branding is aligning what you want people to think about your business with what people actually do think about your business through your visuals, tone of voice, and terminology.
THERE ARE TWO COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT BRANDING:
1 | A brand is not simply a logo. A logo is definitely one of the most recognizable features of a brand, but it’s only the tip of the iceberg.
2 | Branding is not just for large companies. When we think “brand,” we often consider the brands we’re most familiar with, like Nike or Starbucks. But the truth of the matter is that every business has a brand, and your brand is always communicating something to your audience. It might be telling them that you’re intentional and pay attention to detail, or it could be giving off the impression that you’re uncertain, confused, and haven’t a clue what you’re doing.
A brand isn’t simply a logo and it isn’t just for large companies; a brand is the complete image of a business.
These quotes help break it down further:
“Your brand is your promise to your customer. It tells them what they can expect from your products and services, and it differentiates your offering from that of your competitors. Your brand is derived from who you are, who you want to be, and who people perceive you to be.” - Entrepreneur.com
Your brand gives potential clients and customers a glimpse at what they will experience with your business; it sets expectations.
Take restaurants for example.
Fast food chains like McDonald’s and Taco Bell have brands that are colorful and friendly. They’re trying to catch your attention. They don’t promise a fine dining experience. Instead, their brand tells you that you can expect a meal that’s quick and inexpensive.
Now think about some of the nicest, most expensive restaurants in your area. Chances are, their brands are more refined and sophisticated. You can expect to have a one-of-a-kind fine dining experience just from their visuals and their atmosphere.
My favorite part of the above definition from Entrepreneur is that last sentence. “Your brand is derived from who you are, who you want to be, and who people perceive you to be.”
Branding is a reflection of a business.
Because businesses don’t have an appearance from the start, a brand is designed to visually reflect a business’s character.
Great brands are intentional about using elements like their logo, colors, and tone to portray not only who they are, but who they want to be. It’s like cleaning the house before guests come over; you want to put your best foot forward.
“Branding is the art of aligning what you want people to think about your company with what people actually do think about your company. And vice versa.” - Jay Bauer
“Your brand is whatever your customer says it is.” - Anonymous
In other words, branding is dressing your business for the part.
It’s the art of making your audience say the right things about and set the right expectations for your business.
Branding uses your business’s tone, logo, color scheme, and identity to align what you want people to think about your business with what people actually do think about your business.