What is Branding?

As a startup or entrepreneur you might be asking yourself, what is branding? While I’ve been in the design world for a long time now, I didn’t always know what branding meant exactly. I knew that logo’s were part of a brand, but other than that it seemed a bit fuzzy or etheric. I’ve of course figured out what branding is at its core and want to share it with you. This is just a brief overview of what branding is. I already talked about why branding matters, products and branding, and even how to grow your brand not what it can do for you or how it works, just what it is.

Branding has been different things over its history as a word. As a bit of word history, the Old English brand ‘burning’ is of Germanic origin and related to German Brand, also to burn. The verb sense ‘mark with a hot iron’ dates from late Middle English. This gave rise to the noun sense ‘a mark of ownership made by branding’ (mid 17th century), from which we derive our most common usage of the word today. “Distinctive wording or design used to identify a particular brand” or “the promotion of a particular product or company by means of advertising and distinctive design.” Here’s the link to Webster’s Dictionary if you’d like to read more. While this is the technical definition, and very brief word history, what do we mean now when we say the word “branding”?

Well, branding is the act of making other things match a certain brand. A brand is the unique and uniform voice and imagery for a particular product, company, or person. A brand boils down to the core essence of the entity which it represents. The core values and purpose of the entity, whether a single person or a company of thousands, comes through with the brand. The brand tells you if the company is bold, aggressive, sleak, aged, modern, elegant, or any other descriptions. A brand is an external representation of an internal mindset.

Branding creates emotional responses in the people who see it. It is emotion in graphics. It tells a story, making something unique when measured against its peers. Branding attracts people who share the core values and purpose of the brand.

When looking at the “things” branding creates there is a long list. Logos are a very obvious one people know, but things like your core purpose, or mission, vision, values statement for a business are also part of the brand. The name of a product or company, letterhead, color, font selections, and even email signatures are part of a brand. Types of photography, specific patterns and artwork. These all combine into a unique combination, at least I hope so because otherwise you might find yourself infringing on a copyright.

Your company brand is also tied to your company culture. Like minded people attract each other, or so it seems. If you have a mocho brand, mocho minded people gather around it. If you have an elegant brand, elegant people gather around it. Branding makes something relatable because you have given it emotion. Branding = values + purpose + emotion.

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