What Branding Is Not And What It Might Be

As someone who talks to people about branding often, I get lots of responses to the word “branding.” For most people, they think of a brand as a logo. But for a few, those people who know how to make branding work for them, it’s so much more.

Think about this. When you meet someone, what do you think about them immediately afterward? Think of someone you met recently. Did you leave with a good impression of them? Not so good?

That feeling you had after meeting them was that person’s brand.

Maybe it was their clothes, or the way they talked so fast you could barely understand them. It might have just been the way they stood. Whatever impression you left with was their brand.

Brands are tricky like that. They’re just impressions really. What marketing does is try to control that impression. A logo, a color scheme, a sense of style, all of these are used to convey an impression.


Branding at the Core

Identity is the heart of branding. Whatever drives the business, whatever passion rages behind the service or product, that is the basic essence of the brand.

It might be a set of values like Yvon Chouinard, Patagonia‘s founder, who sets out to protect the places he loves. It might be a fun spirit like Flickr who strives to be all about balancing work with fun.

Fun Brands Like Flickr

A great brand knows who they are. It’s just that simple. The more you know what your brand is about, the more prepared you are for the next step:

Branding Your Target

When you know who you are, you have a greater sense of who would appreciate what you do. I ask people who their target audience is all the time. The most common answer I get is, “Everyone.”

If the target of your brand is everyone, then it’s really no one.

Part of the job of branding is knowing who would be attracted to the value you offer. When you take the time to do the work here, it always pays off exponentially.

For example, Starbucks would have been the biggest flop in coffee history if they targeted everybody. My father would think it crazy to pay more than a buck and a half for a cup of joe. So the power of Starbucks rests in their targeting. Young, progressive people who are looking for more than just a cup of coffee. They want an experience.

Get it? The is where the last step of (this part of) branding happens.

The Branding Value

This is where the identity of the brand and its target overlap. It’s where what is offered is craved.

Who buys $750 dolls? People who love anime. Don’t believe me? Check here.

Why do they spend that much for something like this? Because of branding. Absolutely. 100%.

Branding is the most powerful tool in any business because it leverages attention and motivation.


If you think a logo is a brand, I’m really sorry, but you’ve missed out on so much. Maybe you never developed your branding and are successful. Lucky you.

For most of us, it takes a very deliberate effort to connect our business’s value with the ideal customer. The visuals are just there to help.

If you’ve just read this post and realize you need some help with your branding, please consider pre-registering for my branding course Making Your Brand Work For You.


Want to tap into the power of branding? Want to know exactly how to choose the right logo, font, color scheme and style guide? This course is for you.

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Author: Conrad