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Brand vs Branding - Understanding the Differences

Hello and welcome to 2021 and the first GhostCat Media eMag of the year. This issue I wanted to delve into the concept of branding for small businesses and in this article I’m helping you see the differences between brand and branding and why it’s important to know!

Brand vs Branding: What is your 'Brand'?

The best way to think of your brand is that it’s the story behind why you started your business. It’s the reason your business exists and the problem your business solves. It’s the purpose or the mission statement.

It’s who you are, what you do and why you do it.

A more modern way of thinking about and speaking about your brand is that it’s the way people feel about your business. When someone mentions you or your company, how do your customers feel about it. I always thought PepsiCo’s mission statement was amazingly simple and succinct.

For example, I started GhostCat “to provide expert commercial photography, videography and marketing services to small businesses with maximum quality and minimum fuss.” So when people think of my brand I want them to think I’m an expert in my field but also that I never over complicate things and they can get what they need without fuss or faff. None of that has anything to do with my logo, colours, fonts etc.

You may not have ever stopped and thought about your brand. You may think (for example) “well I wanted to run a coffee shop so I opened one”. But I bet you there were and are reasons why your coffee shop is better than the local chain, or has the things that you always felt were missing from that coffee shop you went to before yours existed… And if you still don’t think there’s a brand or mission, ask one of your regular customers why they keep coming back!

Your brand is also how people describe your business so that test of asking a customer to describe your business is a really good one. But don’t just ask someone who is a known advocate. Ask first time customers about their experience with simple surveys – are they feeling and seeing what you want them to feel and see? The same goes for reviews… if what you want people to feel and what people are actually feeling aren’t matching up then something somewhere is going wrong and the other articles in this month’s eMag will help you audit that for your own business.

Brand vs Branding: What is your 'Branding'?

Yes your logo is your branding, but it actually goes much, much further than just a logo.

Along with a logo your branding is all the visual elements of how your company presents itself to the world – and all of those physical or visual or audible elements should be fuelled by and in line with your brand and the values and mission behind it.

Your branding is things such as:

  • Your Logo
  • The fonts you use
  • The colours you use
  • The way you talk to customers, in emails, in messages, on the phone and in any printed materials including things like leaflets, menus, signs around your shop, studio, office – this is also known as ‘the tone of voice’ of your business and it matters more than you think – read more in the next article
  • The style of your corporate or commercial photography and videography – sometimes referred to as your visual identity
  • Your social media – this falls under tone of voice but often for some reason businesses use social media with a different tone of voice than other marketing materials, but it’s important to see them as one and the same
  • The ‘vibe’ of your messaging – again it’s an element of tone of voice and this is harder but more important to mould and control if you have staff working for or in your business

A simple way to think of your branding is that if your brand is the story behind your business, your branding is how your business tells that story and brings it to life in the eyes of a customer or client.

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