Brand, Brand Identity, Branding... What’s the difference?
No, I’m not stuttering. While all influenced by each other, they’re three very different and equally important things. Your entire brand is one of the most important investments you can make in your business. It can be the deciding factor for success as it helps set you aside from competitors.
If you’ve ever come up to me at a bar and asked what I do, I’ve probably chewed your ear off talking shit about brands and business and what the difference is between all the words that start with B (Brand, Beer, Bar, Business etc). So let’s set the record straight - once and for all.
Let’s break it down...
It isn’t all pretty glitter, logos, and personalised pens. When it all boils down, brand is a feeling, it lives in the consciousness of the customer, it’s not physical, it’s not a ‘thing’. It’s the emotional connection your audience has with your business. It’s almost instinctive. Every time a customer interacts with your business, they’re forming their own perception of you. This, is your brand.
“A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is—it is what consumers tell each other it is.” - Scott Cook, co-founder of Intuit
Brand helps your product, service, and business become way more valuable. Businesses can’t just add extra zeros to price tags or simply decide to build tribes around them because customers won’t see the value in whatever they’re offering unless there's a logical or rational reason to interact or work with them (or join said tribe). But over time, with proper advice and strategic direction, a business can grow into a brand and in time, grow their margins too. Developing a unique and ownable position within the market dramatically helps this process become a reality.
When a category is flooded with comparable products and services, the brand becomes the differentiator, the selling point. Which is why it's so important for brands to build distinction within the market. Because when a brand becomes distinctive, their customers are no longer buying just a product or service. They’re buying into an experience that has become trustworthy and holds real value to them.
A strong brand sends the message ‘these guys know their shit’ instead of ‘what is this shit?’
Brand Identity Defined
Your brand identity is the overarching visual and verbal identity that helps you build the reputation of the brand. It encompasses the brand ethos into a consistent and cohesive design system. It sets the tone for how your brand is communicated and consumed within your market ensuring that it’s always saying the right thing and continually reinforcing whatever it is you stand for.
Your brand identity is the visual and verbal design system for keeping all touchpoints a customer has with your business, on brand.
Now we can talk about those personalised pens.
Branding is the sum of all parts. It’s every touch a customer has with a brand. It’s your logo, your promo pieces, your employees, your culture, sometimes even your customers (like Harley Davidson) - anything and everything! Branding is the way in which the brand is delivered to the customer in a consistent and cohesive way using your brand identity and design system as a vessel, to reinforce your brand. And, every time a prospective customer touches your brand in one way or another it adds to the overall experience of the brand.
While on the subject of Brand Experience, it’s important to note that brand experience, and customer experience are two very different things. Experiencing the brand can come in many different forms. Through your branding, your marketing, your advertising, your packaging, how your store is layed out, how your employees talk, how they act, how you're represented in the media - everything.
Customer experience is more about how the product or service is delivered directly with the customer on a one-to-one basis, brand experience is before that, it comes first, it starts well before a customer has even thought about whether they want or need what you’re offering, before they pick up the phone.
Brand experience leads the way. It encourages the start of a positive customer experience and almost always, is completely out of your control. As a business, all you can do is influence a perception a customer has of your brand through the interactions they have with it. And, this starts with how you present yourself to the market, this starts with your branding.
If brand encompasses all that you are, all that you stand for and why you matter. And your brand identity is the vessel used to deliver that value to your customers, and each one of those interactions define the overall experience of the brand, and we know that bad experiences don’t turn customers into raving fans.
Wouldn’t it be fair to say that investing in brand, brand identity and consistent branding is one of the most important investments a business can make?