What The Word “Branding” Really Means

Have you ever wondered why companies are willing to pay literally millions of dollars to “brand” or “re-brand” their company?

First, lets get some myths out of the way:

  • A brand is not a logo
  • A brand is not matching graphic design
  • A brand is not a product
A brand is the all encompassing global experience someone has with your organization. It's the personality of the company. It's how the organization makes you feel.

There are two parts to branding:

1. Creating Personality
It takes a lot to create a consistent, or change a consistent, corporate personality. The organization's work must reflect its mission, their values must be in sync with how they behave in the marketplace, their design must accurately reflect their corporate attitude, their customer support should uphold the company's promise… you get the picture.

A strong brand is when a company can create an echo chamber of consistent emotions throughout various touch-points with customers, employees, or vendors.

And just like humans, your personality doesn't change often. Unlike, clothes (which are more like graphic design to a company) they change all the time.

But remember, even if you've never branded your organization, you still have a brand. Because…

A brand is not what you say it is, it's what they say it is.

2. To Differentiate
The more common reason companies pay millions of dollars to rebrand themselves is to differentiate. To stand out. Again, it's similar to humans. When you think of the most interesting people in your life, who comes to mind? People that are different right? They might be funny or loud or creative or maybe they just have an incredible story.

Bottom line, the human mind only notices what's different.


So the question is, how can you or your organization be a bright orange dot in a sea of gray ones?

This is branding. 

Have you branded yourself or your company? What personality have you created? What makes you different? Let me know in the comments below.

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25 Responses

  1. Sadly, branding is so important. People pay top money for a brand even though they could find something similar for a much lower price that isn’t brand name. Interesting how the human mind works and wants to associate itself with top brands.

    1. It’s just the work of the marketers and advertisers. Convincing people that wearing a little green alligator will make them look and feel better. But interesting how often it applies to middle class or poor people.. But it’s like marriage, there are two sides involved. It’s customer’s fault, i believe that the idea that as soon as iPhone 6 comes out, 5s becomes useless, slow and ugly even exist! lol But you have a good point here.

      1. Yep. It is true that it is two sided street. The issue is a lot of people don’t even seem to be aware of it. We are influenced by so many things. It becomes difficult to make smart and rational choices if you aren’t aware of what is influencing you and what you actually want and what would help you long term. I guess a good marketer is someone who can make you desire something, mainly through evoking emotions in you. The most powerful movie trailers for me are the ones that make my heart beat in different way.

  2. Great blog! I am working on a re-branding project for the company I work for, sometimes it can be a bit challenging to create a “new” personality for the business when the business is quite conservative. Thanks for sharing Dale!

  3. This is an interesting blog for me to read right now. Thank you for sharing. I do not have a company to brand , it’s more myself. Sometimes I feel I’m not making that connection with an audience which results in me losing confidence .

    1. Keep trying Sarah! Branding ourselves is of the utmost importance. Remember that your worth does not come from whether people accept you/your ideas or not.

  4. Truer words have never been spoken. I have been trying myself to express to people I work with that branding isn’t about what colors you have or graphics, but what you stand for. What you believe in and the different ways you show that to your audience. All about being your brand.

  5. I am doing branding for small local business mostly and believe in exactly what you’ve wrote here! So many times i have to break the stereotypes in business owner’s mind of what brand it, but that’s what makes it fun! It’s like making a student believe he is actually smarten then he thinks he is and then see him succeed!

    Thanks for the blog, very well worded and presented!

  6. I am doing branding for small local business and startups mostly and believe in exactly what you’ve wrote here! So many times i have to break the stereotypes in owner’s mind of what brand it, but that’s what makes it fun! It’s like making a student believe he is actually smarter than he thinks he is and then see him succeed!

    Thanks for the blog, very well worded and presented!

  7. Hi Dale, thanks for the post. I was actually just talking to a friend about branding, so this is quite timely. I do have a question though. I’ve done some reading and been to some seminars that focus on company culture. In short, they sum up culture as: “the way we do things around here.” So what is the difference between a company’s culture and their brand?

    1. Hey Aaron, can I chime in? There’s no difference. They are the same. Your culture influences your relationships therefore is a crucial part of your brand. I can go deeper but this is the foundation. Does that help?

  8. Hi, Dale. Thanks for this post. I’m a bit concerned with the post as it exists, though. It appears to borrow heavily from Marty Neumeier’s book “The Brand Gap”, yet I see no acknowledgement of his work in the post. Would you please cite him as the source for much of this post?

  9. My branding is letting my clients know that I have the experience to make their small businesses to stand out among similar businesses and to reach out to the clients they target. I show them that I am one more in their company, I am not just there to get the money and run. I love putting all my creativity and strengths to make their lifes easier and to make their days!

  10. When I took a branding questionnaire, it opened my eyes to what exactly I am really interested in. I have since started to direct all my tweets, fb posts, and social media updates to reflect that interest and hopefully start creating a brand.

  11. I’m a Brand Therapist & Coach. I make fundamental corrections, like a Chiropractor, at the Identity level where values & beliefs determine trajectory. I help small businesses and consultants work through their customer’s entire journey making improvements along the way. This is the critical path to success for every brand. To thrive at the deepest level is to perform at the highest level. Technical skills: Brand Strategy, Sales Process and Organization.

  12. Great post on branding. I’ve just stumbled upon your site and so much of what you’re writing is connecting to me on so many levels. I’m asking the branding question right now from a personal perspective. What makes me different? How do I stand out? Thanks!

  13. Although I know this speaks of the “unspoken” truths I find it sad. Sad because so many people live their lives by branding. They search for this persona because they haven’t established one for themselves. I find the wealthy to be particularly engaged in this behavior. It is sad because it is so limiting on oneself. So much of the world goes unseen or ignored because they haven’t got the right (brand). Interesting yet disheartening. My own branding seeks to remove all brands and open more doors to enlightenment.

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