Brand vs. Branding What's the Difference?

Brand vs. Branding: What’s the difference?

There’s a lot of misconceptions around the terms brand, branding, logo design and brand identity. Unfortunately, these are often lumped in together as the same thing, which can make it confusing when trying to figure out why you need them all!

The difference between brand and branding is that one is the emotions felt towards your brand, and one is a marketing tool aiming to influence those emotions.

What is a brand?

Your brand is how you are perceived in the marketplace by your customers. It is not your story, your appearance, your graphic design or anything you control yourself. In fact, some may argue that your brand isn’t owned by you at all. It lives in the minds of your customers, and is controlled by their thoughts, emotions and opinions, a direct result of their experiences with you. Obviously, you are able to have a small amount of control over these things by how you present yourself and treat your customers. Ultimately, it is your reputation, and what customers take away from their experiences with you that makes up your brand.

“Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room” Jeff Bezos (Amazon)

Your brand is a result of all of your actions, whether that be in brand identity, logo design, customer service, interior design and also customer reviews! All of these things work together to create your brand.

“A brand is a result – not a tactic”

Lucas Conley (Fast Company)

So, what is branding?

If your brand is your reputation, your branding is a marketing tool to influence that. Your branding should work to align what you want your customers to think about you, with what they actually do think about you.

It’s important to remember that your branding is not only made up of the visual parts of your business such as logo design, business card design and marketing materials, but all customer touch points within your business. This includes everything from customer services, complaints procedures and tone of voice in communications to product design, social media presence and the music played in your store. Remember, your branding does not only extend to things that can be visually branded.

Your business will build a brand, and a reputation whatever you do. If you haven’t actively built a brand identity your business may be perceived as unprofessional and in turn this may become your brand. Likewise, if you are using social media and your updates are sporadic and inconsistent, customers may also come to think this way about your brand. This is why it is so importantly to go through the process of branding, taking steps to ensure your brand is perceived in a way you are happy with, and puts across the identity you have chosen.

Your Branding

I liken branding to a personality. The personality is your brand story, it’s values and the problems it is trying to solve. When working on graphic design projects the first step I always take is to fully understand your brands personality. This is because it is SO important for that ‘personality’ to be carried across everything your business does. All aspects of your business should stay true to your brand values.

Of course, the way your brand looks (your brand identity) should reflect that ‘personality’, and although it cannot make up your whole brand, it is one way to impact customer experience. First impressions are important, and for most customers the first impression of your business will be your brand identity – whether that be on a product, on social media, or on a store front. The way your business looks should draw customers in, the experience they have from there on out, from initial communication to end product satisfaction should reflect your brand’s ‘personality’, leaving them with a consistent, tailored and positive experience.

“Authentic brands don’t emerge from marketing cubicles or advertising agencies. They emanate from everything the company does.”

Howard Schultz (Starbucks)

To build the ‘brand’ you want you need to do everything in your power to impact customer experience and influence the reputation of your brand. The best way to do this is to create a strong brand strategy, covering everything your customer experiences within your business. If you are an online business your social media, email signatures and website should reflect your brand strategy, as a restaurant your menu’s, tableware and background music should give the right impression. You get the idea – everything your customer experiences within your business makes up your brand – use it to it’s full potential!

What's Next?

As you may have guessed, as a graphic designer I can’t create a brand for your. However I can definitely help you build a strong brand strategy, or brand identity to ensure your customers get the right impression of your business from the get go!

I’m a graphic designer based in Birmingham. I work closely with small businesses to build strong brand identities. See more of my work on my portfolio page. Ready to enquire? Get in touch today for a free consultation.

Let's Work Together!