What is branding?


Designer showcasing brand and logo evolution

Branding is a complex topic that many struggle to define. Through decades of experimentation and technological evolution, the term branding has evolved.

This article will explore the meaning of branding and the key branding elements you need to consider when launching your brand.

What does branding mean?

The history of branding dates back centuries. From the start, branding was all about making a mark.

In the 1500s, it was used by cattle owners to describe the mark left on cattle to identify ownership. 

Each branding mark was unique to a specific cattle ranch. These markings were simple, distinctive, and recognisable, much like logos today.

Now, this is where it starts to get complicated…

Branding today is so much more than a look or a logo. Branding is the process of making your business memorable beyond the product or service you provide.

It’s the practice of actively shaping your brand to influence the customer’s perception.

What is a brand? 

It’s the set of perceptions people have created about your company. It includes everything from your logo and packaging right down to your online reputation and corporate responsibilities. 

Why is branding important?

When you only have 7 seconds to make a great first impression, your branding needs to be solid and well-designed from the get-go.

Effective branding can catapult your business into the hearts and minds of your target audience.  

Here are four key reasons why branding is important:

It sets you apart from the competition

With more businesses than ever entering the marketplace, standing out from the crowd has never been more important.

Branding helps you to differentiate your business from a competitor.

It should highlight what makes you different and why your customers should choose you.

Develops brand awareness

Brand awareness refers to how your business is perceived both in the market and in the consumer’s mind.

A positive impression of your product or service establishes trust.

Consumers buy or do business with brands they are familiar with, even if cheaper alternatives are available.

Establishes brand recognition

With so many businesses in the same marketplace, a successful brand is often the most recognisable.

Distinctive and memorable attributes can help you stand out against competitors and increase brand recognition.

Builds trust and nurtures the consumer relationship

Building brand trust is crucial to the success of your business.

Businesses that consistently build and nurture an emotional connection with their audience are often the most successful. 81% of consumers said they need to trust a brand to do business with them.

Good branding allows you to demonstrate the business’s ‘human side’.

By outlining your brand values and incorporating these into your wider marketing messages you can encourage trust through relatability, transparency, and authenticity.

According to research conducted by Motista, emotionally connected customers have a 306% higher lifetime value than an average customer.

Consumers who trust the brands they purchase from will reward them with loyalty, engagement, and advocacy.

Can branding increase your business equity?  

Your company’s growth can depend on the success of your branding when attracting new customers, generating revenue, and breaking into new markets.
Click here to find out how we helped the UK’s number one collagen supplement break into new markets in the far east. 

10 key branding elements your business needs

Your branding communicates who you are, what you offer and what makes you different from the competition.

These tangible and non-tangible touchpoints represent your company.

Here are ten key elements you need to consider when creating effective branding for your business:

1. Mission statement and brand values

Your mission statement and brand values should be the foundation of your branding and identify your purpose and values.

In a few short sentences, you should be able to explain what your business purpose is and why it’s essential.

Anyone you encounter should clearly understand what you are about just from reading these few sentences.

2. Vision statement

Your vision statement should clearly outline your business’s strategic goals for the future.

Think about what you would like to achieve in 5 or 10 years.

These may evolve but should always remain consistent with the brand’s core values.

3. Brand values

Brand values are a set of guiding principles that shape your business.

They’re made up of views and beliefs that you stand for.

Brand values are key to ensuring transparency and authenticity, and providing a “human side” to which your consumers can relate.

4. Brand Identity

A brand identity is a visual representation of your brand and its personality.

It actively shapes the way your customer perceives you. It incorporates logos, typography, colours, packaging, and messaging.

Click here to find out how we can help you evolve your current brand or bring a new one to life.

5. Brand story

Storytelling is an integral part of our everyday lives.

Stories captivate and engage, and help brands build a connection with their target audience.

Think about your narrative, what characters are involved, and what problems they may face.

Your brand story should set the tone for your content and should remain consistent throughout.

6. Brand voice

A brand voice shapes your customer communications.

It’s the way you connect with your customers, sharing your company’s personality and values.

A good brand voice makes you stand out from the crowd and helps consumers recognise and relate to your brand.

7. Logo

Your logo is one of your most important branding assets.

It’s a visual representation of your company and should be distinctive and memorable.

Your logo will be on almost every asset you own, so it must encapsulate your brand identity.

A graphic designer choosing colour palletes for branding and web design

When selecting your brand’s colour palette, it’s essential to consider the psychological impact of colour.

Colours can subconsciously influence our emotions and can often convey a hidden message.

For example, the colour red is associated with passion, heat, and danger, whilst yellow is associated with warmth, energy, and brightness.

Once you have decided on your brand message, choosing suitable colours to reflect this will help cultivate your brand personality and ultimately shape your brand in the consumer’s mind.

9. Brand guidelines

Using your mission and vision statements as a starting point, you’ll need to create a set of brand guidelines that showcase how your brand should be represented.

These guidelines reinforce your design standards whilst protecting your brand identity and uniqueness, ensuring that your target audience perceives you correctly.

Brand guidelines include everything from your colour palettes and typography to your tone of voice and storytelling narratives.

Click here to find out how we can help you establish brand consistency with guidelines designed to ensure memorability and brand longevity.

10. Website

In an increasingly digital world, having a website is essential to your arsenal of marketing tools.

Regardless of the size of your business, a well-built website can attract traffic, educate about your products or service and convert leads into sales.

Click here to find out how we can help you enhance your digital presence with a website designed to showcase your brand.

Taking your brand seriously

Understanding the importance of branding and leveraging it into your broader marketing strategies is key to your business’s success.

It helps you connect with the target audience emotionally, building relationships that help drive brand loyalty and increase awareness.

It’s these connections that transform a one-time buyer into a brand loyalist.

The Emotional Connect: Crafting a Brand That Resonates

A brand is more than a logo or slogan—it’s the emotional and psychological relationship a company builds with its audience.

A resonating brand strikes a chord with people’s desires, needs, and well-being, turning customers into advocates and forging deep-rooted loyalty.

This emotional connection can be the linchpin of a brand’s longevity and success, differentiating it in a crowded market.

Consistency is Key: Building a Cohesive Brand Experience Across All Platforms

To imprint your brand into the consciousness of consumers, consistency across all touchpoints is crucial.

This means harmonising the message, tone, and visuals from your website to social media, from advertising to customer service.

A cohesive brand experience reassures customers, fosters trust, and reinforces recognition, setting the stage for lasting relationships.

Future-Proofing Your Brand: Adaptability in a Changing Market

In a dynamic marketplace, the ability to evolve without losing core identity is what helps a brand stand the test of time.

Future-proofing involves staying ahead of trends, listening to consumers, and being willing to innovate.

By maintaining flexibility and adaptability in your branding strategy, you ensure that your brand remains relevant and continues to thrive.

Common branding mistakes to avoid

Avoiding common branding mistakes can save your business from potential setbacks. One of the most critical errors is a lack of consistency, where the message varies across different platforms leading to customer confusion. Ignoring the target audience’s needs and preferences can also derail a brand, making it seem out of touch. Overcomplicating branding elements, such as using a complex logo or jargon-filled messaging, often results in a failure to connect with the audience. Furthermore, inflexibility to change and not evolving with market trends can make a brand appear outdated. Always prioritise clarity, consistency, and customer engagement to build a strong, relatable brand.

Who are we and how can we help?

Swan Creative is a branding agency based in Leigh–on-Sea, Essex, helping business owners grow and transform through tailored creative solutions.

Our team of branding agency experts have over 26 years of industry experience. Whether you’re starting a brand from scratch or looking to refresh your current brand our team of experts can help.

Get in touch to start your branding journey today.

Take a look at Swan Creative on DesignRush

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