As we’re working more and more with charities and start-ups, we’re noticing a common conversation happening. Often businesses talk about needing a brand for their company. As we come closer to our first meeting and start asking questions about what our clients want to achieve, what success looks like etc., we discover that what is actually desired in the project is a brand identity or “branding” exercise for the company.
Having a “brand” and “branding” are actually two very different things. If you get confused between these two or have only just come across this article and are surprised that they are two different things, there’s no reason to beat yourself up. Even a seasoned professional can slip up and make this mistake.
To help you understand the differences between brand and branding, we’ve written this article to make things easier.
What’s your brand?
Ask most businesses what their brand is and they will usually turn to their logo or their slogan. Unfortunately, this is not your brand. Your business brand is far more than just a logo, the colours you use, or the product. In fact, it is everything about you. And by everything, we mean everything.
A brand is the perception others have of you. The feelings and the emotional connection that your business makes with the customer are the things that define your brand.
In many cases, the experience that a customer has from start to finish is what makes your brand. For example, consider why people love to buy Italian cars like Ferrari or German cars from Mercedes. It’s not just about the speed and power of the car. It’s the luxury feel they present in the design of their cars. It’s the experience you get when you walk into a showroom – are you given a cup of off-coloured tea, or are you given a beautifully tasting espresso from a fancy machine in a beautiful and expensive mug? Is the support you get from a muffled voice on the other end of the phone, or is there a representative who you can call directly whenever you like? Ferrari and Mercedes are luxury “brands” and their customers have connected to this as both businesses reflect opulence and luxury in everything they do.
Put simply, your brand is who you are. Not what you say in your slogan, but truly who you are. As a business, your brand needs to flow through every area of your customer experience. From an email to a social post, from your website to your call centres. If you are having customers call you and you speak in a mundane and unhelpful way, they will look at your business as a miserable entity and not there to help. Suddenly, that is what defines your brand. Don’t let this happen – make sure each touchpoint in your customer journey reflects what you want your customers to feel about your company.
What is branding?
Your brand is your starting point. It guides everything from customer strategy to marketing planning. There are then several other steps we suggest taking before you come to your branding, but for now, let’s understand what branding is.
Branding relates to the name, symbol or design that is easily identifiable as belonging to a company. It houses your logo, your font choices, your colours, the style of your marketing materials, and so on. Branding guides the visual presentation of your company.
Essentially, your branding will translate your brand and visually present it to your audiences. Done properly and in connection with your brand, your branding helps leave a lasting impression of who you are and what you do for your audiences.
Combining them both
In the current market, you need to make use of both brand and branding seamlessly. They go hand-in-hand to attract target audiences and promise an experience like no other. A good example of a company that ties in their brand and branding is McDonald’s. Everyone has heard of their catchphrase, “I’m lovin’ it!” Similarly, Nike’s “Just Do It” is also a good example of brand and branding. Vocally, these slogans exclaim their attitudes and what they want to represent, and all of this is backed up visually with imagery, films, leaflets, products and their slogan itself.
Both have made messages and positioned their brands in such a way that they have created a cult status for their brands. Similarly, Apple doesn’t even need to give a slogan with their brand; their followers just see the Apple logo and know that they’re going to get a high-end, top-of-the-line product.
Once you know that brand and branding should be used together, you will be able to get the best results for your company. Suddenly audiences will start believing in who you are and why you exist. This has a far greater impact on sales than simply talking about your product and nothing else.
No more disjointed communications, no more unattractive and confusing marketing materials. Lead with clarity about your brand and your branding will follow, presenting your ideas effectively.