What is Branding?

Branding and Design

On some level, I think we all understand “branding” matters. When it comes to understanding what makes up a brand and brand identity, it can be challenging to differentiate between the terms – they mean the same thing, right? From personal experience, this gray area can leave you feeling lost, questioning your business’s presence within your market. My hope is that this post will provide you with a clear understanding of branding so that you can hire the right designers, be strategic with what you share and be true to yourself!

Brand vs. Brand Identity

Are they the same thing? 

The terms, “brand” and “brand identity” are often used synonymously, but there are some differences to know so that when working with a designer or photographer, you feel confident in what you’re signing on for and equipped to grow your business.

In short, a “Brand” is a business’s reputation. It refers to how you’re perceived by your audience based on all that you put out there: your visuals, content and all other touch points. Bottom line: a brand is more than your logo, color palette, photography, social media etc. Your brand is the sum of those elements affecting your audience. Your brand should be a clear and real reflection of who you are, your values and services. The term, “Branding” refers to the steps you take to cultivate that. For example, consistently posting on social media, your marketing elements, website, menu design, photography etc.

“Brand Identity” is simply a set of designed, visual elements: your logo, sub-marks, colors and fonts. A brand identity is what I find most people think of when they hear “brand”.

When working with a graphic designer, you are designing the identity of your brand: primarily your logo, illustrations and icons. It’s crucial that you have a shared understanding and knowledge of your business, mission and goals so that your designer creates work that represents you. A visual identity can not be created in a vacuum. Below are just a few of the questions I like to ask when starting a brand identity project:

  1. Tell me about your story and what your business means to you. 
  2. What do you offer and what are your differentiators?
  3. Who is your target audience?
  4. What inspires and propels your team/business?
  5. How do you interact with visitors/members/customers?
  6. Where do you draw the most inspiration?
  7. Name five words you would use to describe your brand’s image?

See how the majority of these questions don’t ask about the visual elements? It’s your designer’s task to create the visuals that tell your story. In our full questionnaire, we include over 30 questions that dig into who you are, why you do what you do, and what you envision for your brand identity. 

Every visual should be an extension of your story, your mission and purpose. Be picky when choosing your designer! The alignment of your vision, the designer’s style and the philosophical approach is so important. This also translates to your photography; check out this blog post if you’re working with a photographer in the future!

April 22, 2022

- sarah