Branding and brands are much talked about subjects, with huge amounts of written content dedicated to them, but the terms can be misused and misunderstood. Below is a short explanation of these and their associated terms to give a little clarity to the subject. There are very definate differences and meanings to each of the terms which shouldn’t be confused.

Cowboys branding cattleIn the beginning…

Branding initially derived in the 1800s from the practice of producers burning their mark (or brand) onto their cattle as a way to tell one person’s cattle from another by means of a hot iron stamp. It has evolved from there and thankfully, we do not need to use a searing hot iron on our rumps to distinguish ourselves! Although secretly I have to admit there are quite a few designers out there who I believe should be ‘branded’ for their poor execution of work…but that’s a whole other blog!

So what’s the difference between a brand and branding?


In years gone by a brands only necessity was as an identifiable brand mark. But in todays highly competitive marketplace a brand has to work much harder than that and brands have evolved from initially, being a method of mere identification and ownership into something much more.  A brand is the associations people have with a company, product or service that are beyond the physical aspects. A brand is used to help pursuade consumers into buying a product or enlisting a service by capturing the essence of the companies values. It is a promise of quality and trust, therefor evoking an emotional response. A brand encapsulates many things but it is ultimately the way in which the company, product or service is perceived.

Gucci advert showing a man and woman embracingBranding

Branding helps to establish a brand. The ‘branding’ of a company or product can be the name, term, design, symbol, or anything else which is used to identify your goods or service. Colour, fonts, layout, and shapes are also part of the branding used to distinguish and support your company, product or services. Branding is about building an image which people identify your company/product/service by. Successful branding should achieve and communicate an understanding of your brand.

Branding is used to create an emotional link to the brand to persuade the target market into a purchase. The emotional strategy supports the brand and is often seen in advertising whereby it is hard to communicate the emotional link just by way of packaging, and so the advert conveys the emotional appeal. For example, Fragrance advertising makes a strong emotional statement. The fragrance and its packaging will appear in a sexy and seductive advert evoking in simple terms, perhaps the promise of lets say, a romantic encounter just by wearing the fragrance. Obviously its communicating quite it bit more than that but you get the idea. It is this emotional response which reinforces the brand and is the branding of the product.

Brand Strategy

Brand strategy is a long-term plan for the development of a successful brand in order to achieve specific goals. A well-defined and executed brand strategy affects all aspects of a business and is directly connected to consumer needs, emotions, and competitive environments. Having a clear and well defined brand strategy from the beginning paves the way to a successful brand.

Brand Identity

Brand Identity is the expression of a brand – including its name, brand logo, communications, and visual appearance. The brand identity derives from the brand owner and therefor reflects how they want the consumer to perceive the brand, company, product or service. Your brand identity is fundamental to consumer recognition and symbolises the brand’s differentiation from competitors.

Brand Name

It is important to create a brand names which builds a connection between the brand personality as it is perceived by the target audience and the actual product/service. A good brand name should ideally reinforce what the company stands for or the product/services offered.

Brand Logos of Top global brandsBrand Logo

The brand logo is a visual representation of the brand. The best brand logos effectively communicate your brand values as much as possible and are supported with advertising. Brand logos are often developed and updated to to fall inline with the growth of the brand and to refresh the look.

Brand Values or Brand Equity

The brand values or brand equity are what gives the brand its worth and differentiates the brand from others. Through these brand values a product or service is enhanced beyond its functional purpose. In this context the brand provides the consumer with more value and this is why they are prepared to pay a premium to acquire it.

Brand Awareness

Brand awareness refers to customers’ ability to recall and recognise your brand. Brand recognition and brand recall are important in helping customers to understand to which product or service category the particular brand belongs and what products and services are sold under the brand name. Customers cannot consider your brand as a contender if they are not aware of it and so brand awareness is significantly important.


Look out for our next blog which will recommend the best books on brands and branding.


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