As a marketing and branding agency, one of the first conversations we have with our clients revolves around brand identity. At some point in the discussion, someone in the boardroom will summon the courage to ask:
What’s the difference between a company and a brand?
I tell my clients to think of it as a battle between your right brain (the company) and your left brain (the brand). To start a company, you might choose a name, draft your Articles of Incorporation, register with the state, obtain a business license, and open a bank account where your millions will reside. Hopefully you will grow your company, and you may have locations, employees, departments, sales figures, etc., all of which are components of your company.
Your brand, on the other hand, is the public face of your company. Built with imagination and reflection, branding brings a company to life and gives it character. (There’s not much character in your Articles of Incorporation.) Once you’ve started your company, you might discover that you want to share your new venture with the world, to create advertisements, to print flyers, to start a Facebook page – but to accomplish these tasks, your company needs a persona, i.e. a logo, a graphic identity, a tagline, a slogan, a consistent tone of voice, a well-designed website, a presence on social media, and so on.
Is building a brand important? No. Building a brand is essential. And here’s why.
Branding is the foundation of everything. Building a brand is perhaps one of the most challenging tasks for a business owner (though not quite as challenging when guided by a marketing expert), but it’s imperative. By answering difficult questions about your company’s identity, mission, vision, values, position in the market, consumer demographic, etc., you’re creating a rock solid foundation for every future decision.
Branding elevates your value. Think of a powerful, popular brand. What images, colors, commercials, and catchphrases come to mind? Those elements bring life and vibrancy to what would otherwise be a bunch of employees sitting in an all-white room, operating under a federal ID number.
Branding keeps you consistent. By specifying the colors, fonts, graphics, and tone of voice that best suit your brand and the message you wish to communicate to the world, you are creating a clear set of guidelines for anyone who speaks on behalf of your company. Consistent messaging creates trust and demonstrates true professionalism.
Branding is never written in stone. Branding exercises are not reserved for new businesses alone; existing companies (even thriving companies) must revisit, rethink, and recharge their branding from time to time. For one Brand Poets client, a long-awaited brand overhaul resulted in a significant name change that better encapsulated the company’s services and spirit.
A well-built, thoughtfully articulated brand is like a face worth remembering. So put in the hard work now, commit to building your brand, and the world will remember your face for years to come.