Common Branding Terms & What They Mean For Your Business
You’ve probably heard the word “branding” used in tons of different contexts. Terms like brand, brand identity, and brand image get thrown around quite frequently and can be quite confusing.
You think you just need a logo and then you’re good to go, but you keep seeing color palettes and mood boards galore and your head is spinning.
Don't get overwhelmed, because I’m going to settle this once and for all so you'll know exactly what to ask for, what you need, and what you'll ultimately receive if you decide to work with a Brand Designer.
Let’s get to demystifying the common branding terms, shall we?
A brand is not just one thing, but the combination of design, strategies, voice, values, and so on that create an experience that has possesses the power to communicate and influence your audiences perception of what it is that you do. Think of it as a tree. Without each element (branch) and the smaller groupings of aspects of those elements (twigs and leaves) there would be no tree, it would just be a stump. And you don’t want your brand to be a stump, you want to be the biggest, most luscious tree (ahem, brand) you can be!
Branding is the strategic process in which an entire brand is born. During this process, certain elements and aspects are crafted carefully and intentionally in order to create a specific perception for a particular party (aka audience). These elements range from brand identity (vision, voice, values), to brand strategy (messaging, story, client avatar) and more.
Re-branding simply means your changing the direction of your brand message. Your current brand may not be working for many reasons, maybe you DIYed when you first started, changed your target market, removed or even added services or product types, or most common - you simply evolved as a business. Many businesses do eventually go through a re-brand, it happens (seriously, even the big guys like Apple and Starbucks!). Over time businesses will change direction and this may cause a disconnect with the existing brand, but this is nothing a well strategized re-branding can’t handle. You’'ll go through the same process as regular branding but your previous branding will be assessed to identify misalignments.
Your personality makes you you, right? Same goes for your business. It is through the process of branding that you will build a brand identity in which essentially crafts a persona for your entire brand. Your brand identity is made up of smaller pieces like your style (visual appearance), vision, values, voice and more; similar to the characteristics that come together to form you and who you are as a person. The more distinct, specific, consistent, and cohesive these are, the higher the likelihood that they will shape a unique brand that is relatable, connectable, and admired.
Your brand image is essentially the perception of your brand and/or product(s) by your audience. These perceptions involve personal experiences, impressions, feelings, and knowledge that they may have about your business (You know that feeling you get when something just feels right? Or that gut feeling you get when something doesn’t feel right? These are the types of personal perceptions that we’re talking about). Although, a brand image isn’t an element you can completely control as it is pure consumer perception, but it is something that you can strategize to achieve through proper branding.
Your brand’s vision is what you want the world will look like after you’re finished changing it. Why did you start your business? What is the overall impact you’re trying to make? When you put meaning behind what you do and a greater goal in place to strive towards it gives you purpose. When there’s purpose, there’s motivation and that’s how you’ll make the most impact with your brand.
Brand values are essentially what is important to your brand and its message. These are things that align with your brand message and believe in that help you achieve your brand vision. By creating and communicating these beliefs, you create both an attraction and a stronger connection with the audience that shares those same values and align with your message.
Every person has a voice, and whether you realize it or not, every brand has a voice too. A brand voice is the form of communication used in order to attract your ideal audience. The way your brand speaks on all platforms can make or break the love language you want to have with them. The language you use greatly influences the way people feel when they interact with your brand, and you obviously want them to feel a certain way.
Visuals (aka Visual Identity or Brand Style)
This is literally the visual appearance of your brand. Your brand visuals are meant to visually attract your dream client and draw them in to your brand, so I am a firm believer that you need to have a solid brand strategy before developing this area. Once you’re ready to, your brand identity should include elements like logos, color palette, typography, patterns, textures, photography, and more. These are usually displayed in the form of a brand style guide which is a short and sweet little guide that shows you your brand’s visuals all together.
A logo is a branding asset that is developed with your brand identity in attempt to shape your brand image. This can be in the form of an icon, written words, or combination of both that tell people your brand name and help to visualize what your business is all about. In the grander scheme of things, a logo is a key element of a brands identity. It helps build brand recognition and should convey elements of your brand’s personality and values. However, a logo on its own is not your brand. The words “logo” and “brand” are most often used interchangeably, however they are not the same, as your logo is only just a small (but still important) part of your brand.
Understanding the difference between these common branding terms can be all sorts of overwhelming, so I hope that clears up any confusion you might have!