A Simple Definition of Branding

Just for fun, I recently typed the word “branding” while on Amazon’s website. Believe it or not, there are 3,736 books on the subject! I’ll bet there are also several thousand definitions of branding. So if you’re thinking of embarking on a branding campaign for your organization and you’re not quite clear on what it really means, how can you know the path to take?

Although I don’t claim to have read all the books on branding, I have read and thought a lot about the topic and have planned and implemented branding campaigns for many organizations in my 30+ years of experience in marketing and PR. Each campaign is different and uniquely customized for the particular organization, whether for profit or not-for-profit, whether a service provider, manufacturer or government entity. At their core, though, each campaign begins with an understanding of what strategic branding really is.

Here at Relish, we have four simple definitions that should help you reach that understanding.

But first, here’s what branding is not. Your brand is not a catchy name or tagline or a beautifully designed logo. Nor is it getting your name in the paper or getting a great article every few years.

Now for those definitions.

Your brand is shorthand for who you are and what you promise to your target audiences, or stakeholders.

Your brand image is the mental picture your stakeholders have of you. It embodies their experiences when they engage with you as well as what they derive about you from your name, logo, tagline and marketing messages.

So it follows that your brand gap is the all-too-often difference between your brand and the brand image held by your stakeholders.

Finally strategic branding is the process of closing the gap between who your organization is and how it’s perceived through the eyes of your stakeholders.

A successful brand is:

  • Authentic – based on the reality of your daily operations and the stakeholders’ experience
  • Memorable – simple and clever enough for stakeholders to understand and remember
  • Relevant – aspects that matter to your stakeholders
  • Distinctive – helps stakeholders differentiate you from your competitors

Most important, your brand is not what you say it is…but rather what your stakeholders say it is.