What Is Branding?

Branding is known as the art of differentiation.

Written by Matthew Urwin
Published on Dec. 15, 2021
What Is Branding?
Image: Shutterstock / Built In
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REVIEWED BY
Tiffany Meyers | Aug 11, 2022

The world’s most successful brands connect with customers emotionally, in a way no other brand could. They use the far-ranging elements of branding — voice, look and feel, messaging, campaigns, brand position and much more — to shape a singular personality. In so doing, they maintain a unique place in customers’ minds and hold a position that’s totally distinct from competitors in its space. In so doing, a company can cultivate a distinct personality that catches the attention of consumers and establishes the organization as a unique entity.

Why is branding so important?

  • Branding cements the relationship between a company and consumer.  Every industry and category is crowded with competing ideas, products and services. Without a distinct brand, a business will find itself lost in a sea of competitors vying for people’s attention. 

The reality is that products are not enough to grow a customer base. A single industry may feature dozens of businesses with promising ideas, so a company needs to do more to distinguish itself from similar organizations. Investing in a brand strategy spreads name recognition and creates an air of credibility around a business. 

One of the most difficult challenges for any organization is earning the trust of customers, but branding provides a much-needed boost. Branding is all about promising a certain experience or service and keeping that promise. When a company can follow through consistently, it becomes a more reliable and respectable business in the eyes of consumers. Without proper branding, the business would be lost in a sea of companies vying for people’s attention.

What makes a brand successful?

  • While every brand develops its own uniqueness, credibility and authority are pivotal to a brand's success.

The world’s most successful brands make an emotional connection with consumers. They recognize that purchasing decisions and consumer perceptions are primarily based on emotions, not rational arguments.

Successful brands promise a specific experience — and keep that promise, building brand equity, or the trust and loyalty of consumers who will then take action. In addition to purchasing the brand’s products or services, they may act in favor of a brand in other ways, like by promoting it through word of mouth.

The most powerful brands also stay relevant, evolving in lockstep with changes across the market, customer demands and needs, the culture overall and the business’ direction. Branding efforts are a critical tool for demonstrating a thorough understanding of consumers and building well-executed campaigns

How do you create a brand?

  • Building a brand is a process that takes time, so teams should lay a solid foundation with clearly defined guidelines and goals. 

For anyone seeking to build a brand, the first step is to embrace a far-ranging definition of brands. Beyond a logo or a tagline, a brand is a network of touchpoints that, when taken together, make an impression on consumers and the public at large. As such, building a brand takes time — and it’s always evolving.

Brand professionals recognize the need to build a solid strategy, defining what lies at the core of the business, before executing on any one brand element. They define their target audience, for instance, determine their brand positioning or craft a mission statement. With these building blocks in place, they can develop a brand that resonates with their ideal consumers — those who are likely to share their values and buy their products as a result.

Finally, branding is not a static process. Brand professionals conduct brand audits and, based on their discoveries and insights, refine and reinvent their stories and strategies as needed to ensure their brand perception always serves the company.

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