The definition of branding
What is branding? It’s much more than a logo, it impacts all areas of your business. Brush up your knowledge of this fundamental concept.
by Bence Bilekov — Last updated: 26 March 2019
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We’ve heard several potential clients say: “I need my branding done, can you design me a logo?” So many websites claim that they create brands when all they do is generate logos, business cards or similar design items, so it’s hardly surprising that people are confused by this.
While the visual identity of a brand and its overall design aesthetics play key roles in effective branding, even the prettiest designs cannot undo the damage done by a bad customer experience or a disorganised business. Branding goes beyond your visual identity and can aid a variety of other aspects of your organisation — from management to communications.
Branding provides clarity and focus, but it cannot deliver if the other key ingredients of running a sustainable business are not there.
It’s not an unfounded belief that branding is related to advertising. Historically, branding projects were handled by big advertising firms, but branding has evolved since then. Nowadays it requires specialist expertise to create brands and this involves a different kind of process to advertising.
While branding is a long-term endeavour, advertising is usually focused on short-term gains, such as increasing sales of a product in a given timeframe. Branding is more comprehensive. It also involves almost all areas of a business, whereas advertising emphasises a specific aspect, such as the quality or price of the product. Advertising is the process of persuading people to buy into the brand.
The trio of marketing, advertising and branding are all interconnected, but compared to branding, marketing and advertising provide more specific goals and measurable outcomes. While advertising focuses on making people buy, marketing is a more natural ally for branding, because it deals with nurturing relationships between brands and their audiences. Marketing communications play a key role in building brand recognition and their effectiveness is influenced by how well defined the brand identity is.
As the most talked about brands tend to be large global corporations, it is no surprise that there exists a widely held view that branding is for big companies. This couldn’t be further from the truth. A more accurate analysis would be that big companies utilise good branding to grow and maintain their position in the market.
The same branding principles apply to big and small businesses; the only difference is that the complexity of managing a brand will grow with the size of the organisation. A modest budget can do great things for even the smallest of businesses.
When coming face-to-face with the costs of a branding project, a valid question arises: what value does branding add to my business? Many people assume that without a clear and immediate financial return on invest, branding doesn’t provide real value to their organisation. They forget about the fact that a strong brand is an asset.
See some of the most important ways branding can bring value to your business on our Why is branding important for small businesses? page.
Advertising and marketing activities are more focused on clearly defined issues and therefore deliver more specific results. If you want to sell 5,000 more items, try a marketing or advertising push first. If you want the people who bought those products to buy from you again and not from a competitor, build brand loyalty. The direct impact of branding on sales performance is harder to quantify, because it manifests in intangible features such as increased trust and higher perceived quality.
When do you think it’s the right time to enlist the help of a branding specialist? Should you wait until you’re successful or until things have started to go wrong? We’ve seen branding being sidelined by organisations for so many wrong reasons. Branding should be there when you hit the start button on your business, and then adapt to your needs and grow with your demands.
Navigating through competition can be a daunting task and can trick the most focused business leader into pursuing approaches for their company’s branding because they are in fashion at the time. Good branding is enduring — this is one of our guiding principles. Trends change but when you create your brand it should be founded on a forward-thinking vision and created following timeless design principles. Frequent changes project insecurity and confusion to your audiences.
Not many people would say they view branding as a commodity, yet there is a tendency for it to be treated that way. The misconception is validated by many businesses claiming to offer branding for unfeasibly cheap prices, often combined with the promise of unrealistic amounts of amends. Not only does this undercut businesses that offer genuine expertise: it also projects an image that branding is just a product you can buy off-the-shelf, or subscribe to and never have to worry about again. Branding services should be tailored to your business’ needs and offer unique solutions to address your specific challenges.
Are you ready to develop your organisation's branding? Get in touch to find out how we can help you.