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What is a brand?

A few decades ago, a brand was a logo, a few colours, and a sprinkle of fonts. Over time, the definition of a brand has changed significantly. It’s how others perceive your business; more than a name, design or symbol, brands today are recognized by the feelings they evoke in those who see them.

It’s all about experience and perception.

What is a Brand, Really?

A brand is a tool that can help you improve your marketing, recognition, market share and revenue. However, you might still be confused about how a brand can accomplish all these things. Let’s look at an example.

Let’s use Nike as an example.

A few decades ago, Nike was struggling to find a foothold amongst athletic buyers. They weren’t known for creating sports shoes, and very few dedicated athletes bought from them. It was clear that they needed to evolve and create a new message that the market would find appealing.

In 1985, Nike adapted its iconic “Swoosh” logo, but it was only the first step. The company commissioned a large number of advertisements from their agency, all of which focused on various sports and events. However, they still needed something to tie it all together. In 1988, Nike exploded onto the sports scene as an 80-year old runner, Walt Stack, took his morning run in a pair of branded shoes.

The commercial’s message?

Just do it.

Within hours, the feedback was pouring in from athletes who felt the message resonate with them. In a matter of days, Nike became the brand for sportspeople. It’s more than a logo or a slogan. It’s a feeling and a thought that inspires men and women across the world to pursue active lifestyles.

That is the power of a strong brand. It’s not just about being recognized. Instead, it’s about creating a visual and emotional experience every time someone sees your logo, ads, marketing materials, products or website.

Why Should You Invest in Your Brand?

A brand has the power to reshape reality.

It’s a brand that makes people want your product, which is why some companies sink thousands into developing their business identity. How people perceive your products or services is what’ll make them choose you over your competitors.

The first and most important thing you need to do is stop thinking of brand development as an expense, and consider it an investment. Properly developing this identity is integral to influencing how consumers see your product, and whether they’ll decide to buy from you.

Keep in mind that a brand isn’t stagnant, but an ongoing process and long-term strategy that come with several benefits:

  • Attract more customers. 

By doing extensive customer research, you can identify your ideal consumer audience and target them with a well-developed brand. If you craft values and a message that resonates with them, you’ll increase the likeliness of them buying from you.

  • Increase marketing effectiveness.

Understanding your audience means you’ll be able to adapt your marketing activities to their behaviour and desires. It’ll create a sense of emotional connection and make your business far more engaging.

  • Command higher prices.

Customers don’t buy from businesses; they buy into brands. It’s why a Ralph Lauren suit or a Louis Vuitton handbag cost more than something you’ll get from a regular store. The goods or quality might be similar, but it’s the brand that makes it valuable.

  • Earn more revenue.

When you command higher prices and a more significant market share, you’ll also start generating more revenue. That’s why a brand is an investment; over time, you’ll start seeing an ROI.

lightbulb drawing made up of words relation to what a brand is

What Makes a Brand?

Several elements go into developing a successful brand. While there are too many to mention all of them, we’re going to look at a few of the most essential and fundamental things that need to be considered when developing a business brand identity.

Brand Compass

The brand compass is where your branding journey begins; not with logos and colours, but with purpose. What is the mission, vision, values, and objects of your company? By compiling these strategic objectives, you can determine how to position and grow your brand.

Company Culture

Company culture is more than offering sleeping pods in the breakroom, pool tables in the cafeteria, or personal development courses for office staff. Instead, focus on your core values; the principles that define how you engage with employees and the world at large, and why. It’ll motivate employees, turning them into brand ambassadors.


Which words define your brand? Sincerity, competence, ruggedness, technical or glamorous? These are the elements your customers identify with and which makes them loyal.

Name and Slogan

Creating a name and a slogan is an extremely complex process. Instead of just choosing a name, you need to find something that’s meaningful, identifiable, and available. A name can be short and evocative, such as Nike, an acronym, or descriptive, such as Toys R Us.


Capturing your brand identity is more than just designing a logo; it needs to embody your brand’s personality and culture. It doesn’t need to be a name, either. You can have a:

  • Wordmark, like eBay or Google
  • Pictorial, like Apple’s apple
  • Letterform, like Mcdonalds’ “M” or Unilever’s U
  • Abstract, like Nike and Sprint
  • Emblems, like Samsung and UPS

Choose a logo style that suits your company.

Voice, Tone and Message

If your brand or business could speak, what would it say, and how? Would it speak with a rugged, adventurous tone, or sound like a sassy young adult with a ‘tude? What message are you conveying to your customers? Humanizing your brand will make it much more identifiable to and recognizable by consumers.

Architecture and Final Design

Most people begin the process at architecture when it’s the final step. You can only design your brand after you’ve identified everything in the steps above. The architecture combines the names, colours and symbols into one cohesive unit.

Your Marketing Secret Weapon

A brand isn’t just a logo, a few colours, or a catchy slogan. It’s the visual representation of everything your business stands for; your values, purpose, message, services and products. Invest the time and money to develop a strategic business brand identity, and you’ll eventually see the return on your investment.

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