What Exactly is a Brand?

By June 4, 2015Branding
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It’s important. You need it. But what is it really? In this post,  our branding agency break down everything you need to know about branding—from defining “the brand” to sidestepping common branding blunders.

What is a “Brand’?

A “brand” is the combined visual representation of your organization as well as the energy that surrounds it.

The look, feel, voice and style around how you deliver your products or services are what we recognize to be your brand. Your reputation, what people are saying about your business, and the high (or low) regard for everything you do is also considered part of your branding.

Both halves—the part you can control and the part your customers control—come together to make “the brand.”

Everybody and his brother has an opinion on branding, how it should be done, and what it entails. Rest assured, a blanket-like, fully considered approach is best. It may take a bit of effort, but it’s the only way to establish true dominance in your particular market space.

The household names and brands that truly sell got to that point because they make a constant investment in their signature style, look, feel and experience.

You can do the same, and have a blast while doing so. Branding is one of the areas where it’s easiest to shine. It starts with avoiding some common pitfalls.

Basic Branding Blunders

When it comes to branding, most businesses have a losing mentality. They think it’s an expense, that it’s a “nice-to-have,” or that it’s just something to set and forget. Here are the three major offenses:

  1. No Branding – The company lacks a logo, a website, or a major digital presence. Oftentimes, all it has is a company name and a bare bones value proposition. Without a brand, your success is capped.
  2. Inconsistent Branding – The logo on the website doesn’t match the one on the business card. Colors or names of products and services aren’t the same across all media. Or a host of other different inconsistencies. Older companies that make a half-attempt at marketing are usually the big offenders here. They are usually the ones who pull back from campaigns that don’t show an immediate return. This results in being spread an inch thin and a mile wide.
  3. Uncreative branding – An image or icon that’s overdone, overused or just plain boring is going to make your company seem boring. In this time of technology, you can’t afford to blend in with other companies. You need to stand out. The best way is with creativity.

Customers big and small want quality, transparency, and values. A brand needs to showcase all those things, in a unique and appropriate way. This is the challenge brand builders are used to, so it helps to one or a team of several in your corner.

Where to Begin

So you want to build a brand, but you’re not sure what it may entail. Logo, website and maybe some stationery right?

Ever notice how some organizations may succeed in one area, but completely foul up in another? The end result is the same: a bad experience. But oftentimes, that didn’t have to be the case. If they took the proper steps and acknowledged every aspect of their brand, they may have saved face or gotten the sale.

To get it right, branding requires a comprehensive, all-encompassing approach. It starts with a full-scale look into the three main areas that your business needs to leverage:

  • The Creative – the imagery, brand standards, and visual accents of your organization.

  • The Internal – the perspective, ethos, and experience of working with your team.

  • The Written – the syntax, style and voice of your organization expressed in writing.

Start with the core value proposition. Who is your customer, what need do you serve, and what does your organization stand for? Getting clear on these elements will help guide you along in determining Creative, Internal, and Written elements.

In today’s age, where so many choices exist, you can’t afford to be wrong. Minor failures that are quickly solved are to be expected. But if you have a bit of rust on your well-armored brand, it’s only a matter of time before it seeps over and starts affecting everything else.

The Need for a Strong Brand

Covering all the bases in the beginning of our branding project is essential. It will guide your sales team, precondition customers, and set the tone for what people can expect when working with your organization.

“We now live in a world where you are a 140 characters away from destroying your reputation.” (“How to Get Customers Raving About Your Brand” – Entrepreneur.com)

Having a strong brand makes the sales process much easier, since customers know they can trust the quality you promise. This also makes it easier to introduce new products to the market and continue to grow your business.

A Word of Caution

When it comes to theft, intellectual property is one of the biggest problems we face in marketing. Far too often freelancers and smaller design organizations will “borrow” from other mainstream successes or from things they find on the Internet.

It’s unfortunate to see, but taking shortcuts with your branding and being uncreative can be a quick way to a lawsuit for intellectual property theft. An experienced agency will create a concept from scratch and without the use of templates. Make sure to ask about the creative process and what it entails before diving into a creative partnership.

Turn Up The Heat

Making the investment in your company is the key to truly being able to scale, stand out, and succeed. Every major company or organization you hear and read about took time to work on themselves, even if it doesn’t seem that way on the surface.

For mega corporations and global brands, a focus on their branding is usually a topic frequently visited and refined. For the rest of us, we probably don’t have that luxury. However, teaming up with the right group of people is sure to unlock some new opportunities.

Take a look at some of our other posts on the subject to learn more about what “Branding” entails:

More of Our Posts on Branding:


To learn more about Branding your business, read here!