‘A brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service or company. A brand is not what you say it is, it is what they say it is.’ —Marty Neumeier, author
What is branding?
If you type the phrase “what is branding” into a search engine, you’ll likely find hundreds of different attempts and articles on the subject itself. There are so many misconceptions about what a brand is, so much so that it might be more relevant to distinguish what it is not first and foremost which is this: a brand is not a logo. It’s also not a business name, a tagline, or a symbol. A brand is not a name. And yes while all of these assets encompass a brand, it’s not the brand itself.
In a nutshell, your brand is a set of perceptions that people have about your business. It is a carefully curated group of experiences and associations of your value that lives in people’s hearts and minds.
Here’s Why Branding Matters in Business
Branding is framing.
A brand frames who you are, what you do, and why it matters, both in your own mind, your employee’s mind, and the mind of your audience. Through branding, you can proactively direct how you want people to think and feel about your business. Your brand creates a ‘frame’ around your business, and it drives everything you do, from your HR policy and next company outing to choosing a location for your office. By encountering your business in all these different ways, people unconsciously build an archive of associations of your brand in the back of their mind.
Branding is choosing.
You can’t be everything to everyone (nor should you want to be), so what do you want to put in the spotlight? You want to actively guide what people’s gut feeling about you is. You can’t control it entirely, and neither should you want to, but if you don’t frame how you want to be thought of, others will frame you —right or wrong— as they see fit.
Branding helps your audience choose.
Every day we are bombarded by hundreds of messages from hundreds of people, organizations, and products who think that we should buy them, read them, eat them, fund them. By creating recognition and allowing people to pull names from their mental archives, brands help people to make choices. Developing a brand strategy means not leaving things to chance, but having a plan about who you want to engage and what you want them to think and feel about you.
Whether a brand is strong or not is not a question of taste. A strong brand has measurable qualities.
These qualities are:
- Recognizably different from others in the same field (and beyond)
- Relevant to its audience
- Directional; it provides a focus for the future
- Realistic and trustworthy
- Clear with what it’s about, regardless of where you experience it
At Boldthink, we work with companies every day on building their own brand and brand story. One with a clear cut message that helps every organization distinguish itself from the competition. If you have any questions on branding, comment below, and we will try and clarify any questions you may have. You may also contact us directly.