What is Branding Really?

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Written by: Nice Branding Agency

Categories: Branding Tips

Nice Branding Agency is a branding firm located in Nashville, Tennessee .

What is Branding Really?

Branding, identity, marketing, and advertising are terms that are often confusing. Especially to those on the outside of the branding firm industry. Ironically, the meaning of the first term mentioned, branding, is actually quite controversial within the industry as well.

I’d like to dig in and help provide some clarification on the term. This article is for those lucky enough to be in the branding world, as well as those on the outside.

The History of Branding

Many moons ago, and still today, cattlemen used what was commonly referred to as branding, to identify what was theirs, through the use of a hot iron and a symbol. That symbol was representative of their brand; however, to be 100% clear, that symbol was not their brand.

It’s this actual act of assignment or classification that the cattlemen used that truly allows us to identify that branding is not a thing, but it’s a correlation.

My Definition of Branding

Let’s look at the phrase, for instance, “They branded her as politically incorrect". They assigned her to a category of people that had a certain belief or notation. They branded her. They associated her with something. Most likely due to something she did or said, and now, she’s marked with that notation in their mind.

That’s branding.

You see, the term has been widely misused. You’ve heard so many people say, this brand or that brand, actually meaning, this company or that business. Many businesses don’t even have a brand. Or their brand is so off-base because of the misalignment of the experiences and brand support they have in the marketplace.

They have been misjudged by consumers. And this is because the pieces released for interpretation or judgment are not well-aligned with how they want to be perceived.

It’s important to understand that branding is something done to our companies by others based on things we do or put forth for judgment. It’s an action of classification and categorization performed by outside examination.

Public Consumption of Branding

As you can see, a business has no chance of being properly perceived by outsiders unless they are first clear on how they want to be perceived. And only then, unleashing properly aligned brand support and marketing into the wild for consumption and classification.

People will begin to consume properly aligned brand support. Then, and only then, will it be clear to them how to associate, or classify your business with what it stands for and what it provides.

The logo will be aligned with who the business is, and the brand support will continually reiterate what’s underneath the surface of the business. Therefore, the mark or logo, working to represent the association desired, becomes very important.

The logo should be a solid and clear representation of what the business wants to be perceived as. The logo is typically a very crucial and definitive step in the process of a business’ attempt to develop a brand.

This is where it gets tricky! A logo cannot always fully represent that desired classification, due to the necessity of simplicity in the mark.

Explore our previous blog post about what makes a logo great.

Brand Support vs. Branding

This is where the development of a solid brand strategy, backed by well-aligned brand support enter the scene, and they begin to play a vital role in assisting the consumer to determine the intended classification or assign the desired brand for the business.

The easiest way to grasp what brand support is, is to think of it as any and every point of public contact, often also referred to as customer touchpoints. Think printed materials, office or store environment, social channels, website, business cards, attire, etc. These items are working to make sure that the brand has potential to exist.

You see, the brand is actually what goes through a consumer’s head when they encounter any part of your business. A brand is not an actual physical list of items you can develop, but instead, a perception customers conjure up about your business as they journey through this list of items better known as brand support.

To sum it up, it’s the assumption of all their experiences and perceptions with your business, some you can control and some you can’t, and that’s why it must be a non-negotiable to control the experience and touchpoints that you can.

A brand is not something that is internally dictated. A brand is something that is externally decided, and you’ve got to do everything in your power to make sure your influence on the consumer is leading them to see your brand as you wish.

If you’re wondering if you have a brand or if your brand is misaligned, working through a brand audit with the top branding firm in Nashville is the best place to start. Don’t let the consumer decide the fate of your brand without giving it your best shot.