What branding is not.
Most interestingly (and importantly) I start with the question: what branding is not. To find the answer to this question I have read the book: The Brand Gap by Marty Neumeier. Interestingly enough he suggests that most of the things we assume are branding aren't. Yet bring value to what branding is.
So is the brand a symbol?
To start off: branding is not the symbol or logo of a company, its not the brand (mark). The logo or symbol of itself is simply a useful tool to recognize a brand, but in and of itself has no value.
It's a symbol that represents a company and therefore is linked to the brand, which is in simple terms the reputation of the company.
So is the brand the product?
Well, a brand is not a product, this we are aware of. Although most brands are known for their products, its not their brand. If we talk about buying a product from a particular brand we are simply saying we are buying a product that is associated with the brand.
So is the brand a promise towards the customer?
Yes.... and no. There is certainly truth in this, and in most brand guidelines you will find this information clearly. Yet, its mostly an ideal that is associated with the brand.
Branding in marketing language
In marketing language we use the term branding often when it comes to the total sum of impression of a target audience. If someone wants to sell those impressions, particularly a marketing company, then that all sounds great and beautiful. But from a business perspective impressions themselves hold no value for your target audience nor your company.
So, what is branding?
Although the answer is very complex, its my intention to make things as easy to consume as possible, so I wont go into deep.
The definition of a brand is a result, a rather instinctive feeling that comes up from the consumers perspective when they think of the brands product or service that is associated with the brand.
So the true meaning of a brand is the feeling and thought pattern about the brand from the perspective of the customer, guest, student or client.
When we are building a brand from scratch it's important to note what tools are used to make the brand recognizable, services like visual identity design, target audience analysis and marketing intent to create a brand, a thought pattern or feeling to the customer, which is why the feeling is created between brand and customer. Let's call it a relationship.
“A brand is a person's gut feeling about a product, service, or organization”
- Marty Neumeier