What is branding?

by Bence Bilekov — Last updated: 1 November 2023

Is branding a piece of design? Is it a corporate identity, a nice website? Is it like advertising or marketing? Is it just how things look?

We have been asked these and similar questions many times before. It is a common problem that potential clients who want to improve the competitive edge of their business come to us with a gap in their knowledge about branding. It’s easy to be left confused even after researching as there is so much conflicting information out there. It’s also not unusual for businesses to have started their branding project with a partner that is not a good fit for them. All because there isn’t a unified answer to the question of what branding really is.

There is much confusion about what the word “branding” itself means. If you hit up the Cambridge Dictionary you’ll see that it claims branding is “the act of giving a company a particular design or symbol in order to advertise its products and services”. This definition may have been correct in the early days of branding, but branding is so much more than that today.

The definition of branding

Your brand is the perception of your business or organisation in people’s minds. Branding is the process of creating and managing these perceptions.

People combine all past experiences and future expectations of your organisation to form their perceptions about it.

  • Past experiences could include using your product, browsing your website, visiting your store and interacting with your staff. At every touchpoint, your customers will have experienced an emotional reaction and, whether positive or negative, these are then filed away in their brains as memories of your business.
  • Future expectations are based on what people have already personally experienced, or things they have read, seen or heard about you. They are largely based on subjective feelings in the mind.

When people think about your brand, they tap into these emotions and feelings.

Now that you know what branding is you can read about what branding is not in our collection of 10 misconceptions about branding.

To create and manage these perceptions successfully, you need to appreciate the overarching nature of branding first. Your brand is more than a logo or any piece of design. It is almost all aspects of your organisation – from business management through product development to visual identity to name just a few. When handled effectively, branding can provide a powerful framework to help you manage these areas with coherence.

Framework to grow your brand

In its simplest form, a framework can be a set of values that drives you and your organisation. These values should influence everything you do. With brand values impacting all areas of your organisation, these areas will start to feel like they come from the same place and you will soon have more control over the experiences you are offering your customers.

Every new experience people then have with your business will help to reshape their previously established perceptions and build their future expectations.

Are you ready to develop your organisation's branding? Get in touch to find out how we can help you.