Brand, Branding, and Design: What’s the Difference?

Alright, alright, alriiiiiiight, we gon’ learn today!

Guys, it’s killing me. It’s killing me seeing SO MANY people really not get the difference between three mega-important words when it comes to blogging, building a brand, and rocking a business. It also kills me seeing folks attempt to explain the three and not really hit the nail on the head. Why does it kill me so?

It kills me because you NEED to really understand the difference if you want to grow your blog, grow a following, create a strong brand, connect with other brands, and build a business that compels people to ultimately pay you for things. You want connections, community, and cash, and all of those things require a strong brand, strong branding, AND strong design to get you there.

As a brand strategist myself, my job doesn’t involve creating pretty graphics or web pages – there are some masters of code out there who have got that one covered (like the girl who just redid my site – Amanda!). I create everything around “BRAND” as you’ll read below.

The difference between design, branding, and brand.

Design.

YOUR LOGO IS NOT YOUR BRAND. Phew, glad we got that one off of our chests! Your logo is not your brand, and neither is your website design, or the color palette or font family you choose to use. Your logo is a signal, though. It’s a symbol that trademarks your brand to be immediately identifiable when someone spots it. The rest of the design elements and visual pieces that you put together are all just the face of your brand – they do not define your brand, and they can’t be the only thing that you’re upkeeping! Think of your design as a piece of your brand identity. Just like you spot (quite literally) Target from a red bullseye or know exactly what you’re getting when a hot pink package shows up each month (where my Ipsy lovers at???), your visual design is just meant to be an instant identifier and indicator or what’s in store.

Branding.

These are the things that you actively do to maintain, grow, or form your “brand.” This goes so far beyond the design of your website or store, because those things are relatively stagnant! Girlfriend, if you want to make it in this world, you can’t stand still. You’ve gotta move with the times and grow and blossom into your own self and brand and goodness. You owe that to yourself and to your dreams!

A big part of your branding includes your communications strategy – because yes, to have a strong brand, there needs to be a *strategy* involved in what you say, to whom, and when. Think about it like this: when you walk into a crowded room of people and are looking to strike up a great conversation, do you just say whatever comes to mind? Nah, bro. You filter it and strategically say what you think will resonate well with the person in front of you. Knowing what to say and when is KEY to your branding, because good branding is all about relationship building.

Going along with relationship building, do you have a few key words, phrases, or expressions that really define you as a person? You probably do, and you might not even know it! These pieces of active communication that you’re relaying to the world are major keys to your branding and are most effective when the right audience picks up on them. Even better? If they start speaking your language, literally, and leave messages and comments to you in your own special lingo!

Brand.

This is the very core of your being. If your design is your skin and your branding is your skin + your voice + your hand motions, then your Brand is your heartbeat. It’s the pulse that drives your every move, and it can be surprisingly difficult to pinpoint for so many people. Why? Because we’re complex! It can be hard to succinctly summarize your entire blog or business being in one sentence, the same way it can be difficult to describe you as a whole person in just a few words.

Is your brand your identity? Nope. Just because you know who you are doesn’t mean *others* understand who you are (or give a hoot, for that matter).

 

Your brand is your reputation.

It’s how you define it, but it’s ALSO how *others* define it.

Your brand is an emotional response.

If someone comes to your website, enters your storefront, picks up your product, or engages with your brand in some capacity and has zero emotional reaction? So. not. good. To have a strong brand means you are creating a strong emotional response within someone.

Think of Apple. Apple is a stellar brand – one of the best on the planet. If you’re a Mac person, think about what means in your life – how that manifests itself in your life. Maybe you solemnly swear that no matter what, you’ll only buy Apple products for your tech needs. Does that mean your MacBook is the most high quality, technologically sound computer on the market? No way, José.

But you’re buying that MacBook for other reasons, because you’re emotionally connected to the Apple brand.

Maybe owning Apple products makes you feel like you’re up-to-date and current. The Apple name resonates with innovation, sleek sophistication, sexy design, convenience, and connection with others, to name a few. Those are traits that transcend the speed of your computer, the available applications on your phone, or the size of your tablet – they speak to who you are as a person, and when you feel connected to that, you buy.

That’s powerful.

Your brand is a relationship.

This might be the most important point here, so listen up! At the end of the day, having a good reputation and/or making someone feel something doesn’t mean that they’re going to take action. At this point, you’re just an acquaintance with the world – you’ve gotta be besties for this to work.

When your brand is strong, folks feel like they have a relationship with you/your product/your service/etc. They have a sense of loyalty to you and will take action (ie: read what you write and/or buy what you sell) because they feel like you have a special something together – like they’re a VIP. And then, they’ll choose you over other similar options – “the competition” – because they’ll be tuned in to what sets you apart and makes you worth it.

You earn your brand.

So when I say my work is “brand strategy,” my professional prowess and passion lies in helping you identify what your brand COULD be, then laying out all of the steps to help you achieve that.

Want to know more? I opened up my calendar to chat with you 1:1, on the phone, fo’ FREE, to talk about your brand and what you’re currently experiencing. I’d lovelovelove to help you dissect your brand (SO much better than dissecting frogs in 9th grade bio) and see if you could seriously benefit from a lil’ brand boost! Did I mention it’s free?

Snag your slot here.

But no worries – if you don’t want to wait around to chat, I’ll give ya 20% off my BRAND JAM package so that you can get started ASAP with your THREE 60-minute strategy sessions.

Code: brandjam20

What’s the difference between your design, branding, and brand?

Does anything still boggle your brain when it comes to brand? Leave your questions in a comment below, and I’ll answer ’em all for ya!

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