What is Branding?

What is a brand?

Today a lot of people, designers and non-designers, use the words “brand” and “logo” interchangeably but I’m here to tell you that those are not the same thing, they are actually two different things and knowing the difference can help you start thinking of your business and your customers in a different light.

Your logo is a part of your brand, but your brand is so much more than just your logo.

Your logo is the mark that people recognize from your business. A logo is the Golden Arches for McDonalds, the Swoosh for Nike, the target symbol for Target, the letters/font that make up Anthropologie or Pottery Barn.

Your brand is the reason WHY people choose you over your competition.

The McDonalds brand is fast, cheap, and convenient burgers, fries and chicken nuggets with red and yellow everywhere. The Nike brand is high impact and high end athletic wear that encourages you to be your best and “just do it”. The Anthropologie brand is curated creative, tactile and comfortable pieces for women who want to look put together, cultured and affluent.

People pick Nike over another brand because they want to feel athletic, like they can afford it and most importantly they want to feel their best. Same thing with why women purchase an Anthropologie outfit over a Marshall’s outfit. It makes them feel creative, curated and cultured.

Your brand is the way people feel about your business, enough to choose you over someone else.

One of my favorite authors Seth Godin has a great quote from an online article:

A brand used to be a logo or a designer or a wrapper. Today, that’s the shadow of a brand, something that might mark the brand’s existence. But just as it takes more than a hat to make a cowboy, it takes more than a designer prattling on about texture to make a brand. If you’ve never heard of it, if you wouldn’t choose it, if you don’t recommend it, then there is no brand, at least not for you.
— Seth Godin

Simple right. Just like Seth Godin said, if someone doesn’t use or recommend your product or business, there is no sense of “Brand” to them. They may recognize your logo, but they have nothing other than that to think or feel about your business.

So what makes up a brand?

A BRAND is ALL of the supporting elements of your business:

  • Your messaging (actual content that goes with your business - think website text)

  • The way you speak and write (some call this your brand voice)

  • Your overall style as a business

  • Your Logo

  • Your font

  • Your color palette

  • Your patterns

  • Your products and packaging

  • The photography style you pick

  • The feelings you evoke

  • And on and on

Your brand is basically anything and everything that a customer could come into contact with that has to do with your business and makes them feel something.

That’s why it’s so important to be strategic and put in some long term thought when you go to choose a logo, your colors, fonts, etc, because everything is speaking a language to your customers about your business and how it is going to make them feel.

Fonts and colors and even photography style are very primal to us all and evoke specific emotions. We all know that red evokes feelings of power, urgency and hunger. I bet your thinking to yourself all the brands that use red in their logo - Coke, McDonalds, Kelloggs, Target to name a few. Now you know why you pass a Target and feel the urgent need to stop….well that could also be the dollar aisle and Magnolia collection, but they strategically picked red because it gives off feelings that they wanted their customers to feel.

So now that you know how important branding is to your customers - it’s literally the reason they will buy from you or your competitor, you have to lay the groundwork for your brand and decide for yourself how you want to come across to your customers. And that means you need to work with the right partners (designers, copywriters, photographers, etc) or do the research yourself to find out what tactics you can use so that you come across the way you want to your customers.

Now that you know that your logo is apart of your brand, but your brand is so much more than just your log, you can use that knowledge to your advantage as you build out the elements of your business and as you market to your customers!

We’re about to get into a series on the blog about creating consistency in your brand, because just like the great brands of our day, like Nike, McDonalds, Target and Anthropologie, they have entire teams making sure what they are putting out into the world is consistent (or on brand).

Creating consistency is easier than you think, but you just need the tools for how to create consistency around your brand, and we are about to dive into those in the coming weeks.