What Is A Brand?

April 3, 2020

Author: Georgia Townshend

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Understanding brand, branding and brand identity

If you don’t understand the difference yet, don’t worry! Brand, branding and brand identity are frequently misunderstood concepts. The loose and inconsistent use of the word brand can get confusing.

Let’s start with some definitions.

  • Brand is the perception of a company in the eyes of the world.  It’s a relationship between customers and a business.
  • Brand identity is the collection of all elements that a company creates to portray the right image to its consumer. It’s what we can see and touch, it’s the design.
  • The term branding refers to the marketing practice of actively shaping a brand. It’s building awareness and loyalty with all stakeholders, both internally and externally.

Your brand is a living breathing everchanging thing. Described by Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO, “A brand is what other people say about you when you aren’t in the room.” And perfectly put by Boundless; “A brand is a personality that identifies a product, service or company.”

This is a useful way to think about your brand; it lives and changes and reflects every interaction your business has.

So, if your brand is the output, you can think of brand identity as the input, and it is one of the best tools you have to sculpt those perceptions.

Brand Identity

Your brand identity is the visual and sensual expression of your brand. The things you can see, touch, feel, and smell. It comprises of a few key components:

  • Company name
  • Logo
  • Tagline
  • Colour palette
  • Typography
  • Graphical elements
  • Imagery
  • Voice

Your brand identity provides important visual cues to convey certain qualities to your consumer. These qualities can be difficult to put into words, but in imagery they can be psychologically persuasive.

When your audience combines these cues with other information – for example, the messaging on your social media – they begin to develop feelings about your brand. They start to trust you and associate you with particular things such as specific expertise, or an ethically responsible purchase. But don’t be fooled, earning trust takes time, on average, 5 to 7 brand impressions are necessary before someone will even remember your brand.

When thoughtfully designed, these brand identity elements build on each other and communicate a cohesive visual message. This is your first chance to create your narrative, so if your brand identity is lacklustre, you run the risk of simply being unmemorable background noise.

Then Comes Branding

As you may have guessed, if brand identity is the input, and your brand is the output, branding is the process.

Branding is how you get your name out there. And this is where it all comes together; you can’t do branding without a clear brand identity. Branding is a disciplined process and is done so mainly through advertising campaigns with a consistent theme and consistent use of the brand identity and the brand strategy underlying it.

You can do tonnes of advertising and tremendous amounts of marketing, but without a clear brand identity, that is all you are doing! Fundamentally, branding is communication. It’s communication of characteristics, values, and attributes that clarify what your brand is and is not in the eyes of your consumer.

Trusting a brand increases the chances of a customer buying from it. Building trust turns customers into advocates, providing priceless word-of-mouth marketing. On top of that, brand trust means customers keep coming back, which is hugely beneficial considering customer retention is cheaper than acquisition. Building a brand isn’t a quick and easy process but it will pay for itself ten times over if you get right.

Key Takeaways

In a nutshell, brand is the image you create for your business that determines how you stand out from the competition, and builds your brand recognition by fostering an emotional connection with your audience.

A better brand means better marketing, which eventually reflects on your bottom line.