What is a “brand” and what does the word mean?

At LemonTop Creative, we often tell people we are a branding agency, creating brand identities for businesses, especially breweries, throughout the UK. We have our “Great Business needs Great Branding” tagline across all of our promotional literature, but what is a “brand” and what does the word mean?

History tells us that for 100s of years, cattle owners have been using branding irons to indicate which livestock were theirs. As the animals moved around the country to markets, auctions and slaughterhouses, it was easy to tell where they were from because of the specific marks made by the branding irons. In the business world, branding is about much more than just a mark.

“Brand” is a word that is widely used but often misunderstood. People often use the term to refer to the logo of a business or organisation. Others define the meaning of “brand” as the name given to a product or service from a specific source eg. a brand of soft drink is Coca Cola, or a brand of car tyre is Michelin. However, the process involved in creating logos and names like these and placing these in the customer’s mind, through advertising and marketing campaigns, is just a small part of your overall brand.

Your brand is much more than the name or images used to represent your company. Of course, all brands need a logo, a colour pallet, a slogan and an associated URL, but that’s not what your brand is. Your brand is the personality of your product, service, and company. It brings about various feelings when your customers interact with it or think about it, ultimately leaving a lasting impression on them. A good brand maintains positive feelings and results in loyal customers. Simply put, your brand is your pledge, your assurance, and your commitment to your customer. It tells them what they can expect from your company, and it differentiates the services your company offers from that of your competitors.

Customers make buying decisions based on promises and trust, both of which transcend the product or service they are buying, and brands are built on keeping these promises and building this trust. The purpose of your brand is to get people who have a specific need or problem to know, like and trust you. Branding can be viewed as all the activities that help you with the know, like and trust of your customers. Advertising and marketing help get your name out there but many other factors are much more important in building a successful brand. Things like how easy it is to do business with you, your customer service and, most importantly, if you exceed expectations and deliver on your promises, make the biggest impact on your customers.

Your brand is everything from your name and logo, to the wording and tone of voice of your company literature, through to the emotional associations that a customer makes with your business. It encompasses who you are, your aspirations, and what people perceive you to be. Get your branding right and you can establish a significant and differentiated presence in the market that attracts and retains loyal customers.

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