The Definition of Branding │ The Brand Glossary Series

In today’s article, I discuss the term branding. Before you jump to whatever you were doing, thinking you know what branding is, I encourage you to give this article a read. It’s a lot more complex than what you might think.

Have you ever wondered what certain branding and marketing terms mean, and how it applies to business? This series called Brand Glossary, will help you understand what certain terms mean, and how it is relevant to business.

If you prefer to watch a video than read, here’s the link to the video of this article:

I don’t often see many people speaking about branding as central to business processes. Yet branding is essential. You likely started with a logo? Your business started with branding.

Before we get into complex terms, the series will start with the basics. We will set a foundation to branding and marketing terminology.

Now you might think, “but Liz, I know what branding is.” Let me tell you, not many start-ups know what branding is. Branding is not the visual identity of your brand. The visual identity makes part of your brand, but it’s not the only thing. Truth be told, even I didn’t grasp the full extent of what branding is, until before I did a postgraduate degree in brand strategy. Before that I was an experienced graphic designer, and still missed the essence of branding. So that is why we start with foundation terms.

Marty Neumeier, the brand expert, who has written The Brand Gap, Zag, and The Brand Flip, explains that a brand is not a logo, a visual identity system, or a product. Rather he states that “a brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service, or company.” He goes onto to explain that because human beings are emotional, we experience brands and create our own individual impressions of a brand. The brand then continues, in the mind of its people.

Similarly, Carla Enslin and HB Klopper, say that “a brand is a social construct” that holds unique meaning and value in the mind of people. Consumers identity with a brand in a specific way, because of how they think of a brand. They also explain that what we generally consider brand, are actually brand elements: logo, name, identity system, imagery of the brand, personality of the brand, etc.  

If we only think of brand in terms of its logo and visuals, we could miss the power of branding. Branding can be a powerful tool we use to connect with ideal clients. We can consciously create the branding in a way to be experienced in a specific way by our ideal clients and followers.

Therefore, we need to think of branding as the experience we intentionally create; the experience of our business, product, service. Every touchpoint with your business, that is branding. Every time a person experiences the brand (packaging, customer service, talking to general employees of a brand, seeing a post on social media, how an entrepreneur dresses when seeing clients, any email interaction), is essentially branding. Those experiences will inform how people feel and think about a brand.

I’ll end this with a powerful quote from Seth Godin. He says: “A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.” I’d like to encourage you to reflect on your brand this week. Think about the meaning inherent in your branding. And consider whether you are content with your brand as it is currently. If not, what steps can you take today, to work on the impression you would like to create.

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