The idea of branding didn’t start with business. It started with ranching in Sweden in the Middle Ages. The word “brand” comes from the Norse word “brandr,” which means to burn. It refers to the practice that is still used on ranches around the world today where ranchers burn a mark onto a cow’s side to help them identify the cow as theirs and to differentiate it from all the other cows that it gets mixed up with while grazing in open areas.
In business, a brand is also used to identify and differentiate a product, service, or company. Just like a brand on a cow helps a rancher pick out their cow from a group of similar cows, a company’s brand helps consumers choose that product or service from a group of similar products and services.
When they think of a brand, many people think of a logo, but the logo is just the tip of the iceberg. A brand is the sum of all experiences your customer has with your product or company, including:
- store environment
- website look
- website ease of use
- printed material
- online reviews
- product performance
- customer service
- and more
“Your brand resides within the hearts and minds of customers, clients, and prospects. It is the sum total of their experiences and perceptions, some of which you can influence, and some that you cannot.” (source)
Sometimes the words brand, identity, and logo are used interchangeably. While they work together and depend on each other, each has a slightly different meaning:
- Brand: sum total of everything your company (or product or service) stands for. The complete corporate image of how your company is perceived by customers, employees, and stakeholders.
- Identity: the visual aspect of the brand. It can be thought of as your company’s “dress code.” Everything that your company produces – logo, website design, brochures, packaging, store décor – should have a consistent look and feel that reflects and reinforces your brand.
- Logo: an identifying mark that helps customers recognize your brand in many formats.
In the next few blog posts, we’ll take a look at the different parts of a brand including the logo, visual identity, color scheme, and style guide that ties everything together.