What is Branding?

I get asked this question a lot: What is branding?

The answer is different depending on who you ask, and I have a different answer than most. Some may say that branding is marketing and advertising, however, I think branding on it’s own can be a great concept to calculate the strength of your business to your customers.

Think of branding in a simple statement:

Repetition of your business in visual, messaging or social form to your audience.

What’s that mean? We all have different ways in how we represent our business to our audiences. It can be a logo: A simple graphic that is recognizable without words. Think Nike, Pepsi, Under Armour, etc. All recognizable without the label of text. Those companies have spent millions of dollars for that recognition. That doesn’t mean that your business has to have millions of dollars to achieve this, because over time customers that consume your product will become more familiar. The key is consistent repetition. The more times your logo is out there, or your message, the more your audience will automatically make that association with your business. The key is consistency. Don’t change colors or your messaging when you are in branding mode. Keep it simple enough that users don’t have to think.

If we are talking branding in social media form, we can neglect the fact that no two social platforms are the same. Even with the similarities of Instagram and Snapchat, the audiences that use them are vastly different, which means the content you produce has to be different.

Companies that are good at this have established a concept, visually or by way of messaging that is strictly followed. The “we are always this” and “never this” concept. In most visual identity guides it’s defined very clear, with a lot of support as to why.

Is it ok to rebrand ourselves?

Yes, rebranding is part of growth for a business. This doesn’t mean that you have to rebrand in a cycle, and for a lot of businesses, this is hard not to do. For some reason, there exists this idea that we have to change our message or look every so many years to stay fresh. Ever hear that saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”? Of course you have, and that is key to avoid leaving your audience confused.

If you are changing around your business model, products or services, then yes, rebranding might be a good option. I would approach this answering the following questions:

  • Why are we rebranding?
    What are you trying to achieve by changing your brand?
  • Who is impacted by this?
    Think about your audience, but don’t forget about the internal stakeholders that might be affected by changes. How will you communicate the changes to them. Think especially about your sales team, because they will be the ones that get the most questions.
  • What is impacted by this?
    All your marketing materials, print, stationary, business cards – a rebrand goes deep into business. Anywhere you see a logo or statement is a candidate for change. This is directly tied to dollars being spent, so include any budget implications because of your change.
  • What exactly is changing?
    Rebranding could be as simple as a logo change, and nothing else. With that in mind, cycle back through the above questions and keep in mind that you are only changing that. It changes the answer to a lot of those questions. If it is a full-scale name, logo, color scheme and message rebrand, you have a lot more to think about.

    Pro Tip: Do not be the company that says you are going to rebrand and “just use whatever is left up first and then start to use the new look” – this can kill your rebrand and cause more problems. If you are going to rebrand, discard the old look and go all in with the new.

The Bottom Line: Branding is highly effective to your marketing strategy. 

I compartmentalize branding, marketing and advertising as three different strategies to a business. Branding, at the highest level represents you in the simplest form. As long as you can distribute you brand as often as possible to your audience, you will achieve success with that strategy.

This is Marketing Podcast Support:

I talk about branding a lot in my Podcast, here are some listens that go more in depth with this blog:

  1. Branding Your Business

  2. Rebranding Your Business

  3. Email Marketing – Branding Your Emails – Daily Marketing Tip #28

  4. Personal Branding and Landing Clients

  5. How to Brand Your Business – Daily Marketing Tip #9

  6. Using Frontify for Brands, Style Guides and Startups