Updated on December 25, 2023.

What is branding: definition.

What is branding?

Dumb question?

No, not at all!

For the general public, branding is a somewhat fuzzy field, if not absolutely opaque. Everyone talks about it, but only some people can define it in depth.

We often hear about branding in the professional world and almost systematically in entrepreneurship. But what is really behind this term?

Let's imagine for a moment that we meet for the first time. The chances of you being able to define the term "branding" are pretty slim. And that's not your fault at all!

Your answers to this question might be:

  • "It's a logo!"

  • "It's a visual identity!"

  • "It's a graphic charter."

These answers are questionable and, unfortunately, incomplete. A logo or visual identity is only the tip of the iceberg.

☝️ We believe what we see, and what we see first, is a logo. We often hear about these elements because they visually define a brand.

Through the branding guide, you will discover what branding really is, what it consists of, and how it works so that you can (finally) understand it better.

Are you ready to learn more about branding? Then let's get going (and prepare yourself a little snack, you can never be too careful 🥪).

Etymology of the word branding

Before we get into the nitty gritty, do you know where the word branding comes from?

I assure you that the definition will win you points in your next game of Trivial Pursuit!

Initially, "branding" was a derivative of the word "brand."

The word brand, on the other hand, originated in medieval times. Branding was the activity of marking cattle to quickly and unmistakably identify the owner of an animal.

A few hundred years later, the cowboys (during the conquest of the West) called "branding" the fact of marking the herds with red iron. That's why you can sometimes hear some companies say they want to MARK the minds of consumers.

Of course, reality has changed since then. Today, branding literally means building a brand's image.

Today, the goal is to leave an unforgettable imprint on the minds of consumers.

Everyone knows Coca-Cola, Nike, and Apple, right?

But then, how do you do it?

Definition of branding

Here we go!

As seen previously, branding is the activity of creating brand images... More concretely, what does it mean?

In short, branding combines all the processes necessary to create a new brand.

Branding allows the bud that is your brand to blossom.

This activity helps reinforce and promote the power of a brand. The deeper goal is to create a relationship of trust between the brand and its audience.

It is not only a logo, a graphic charter, or a visual identity...

A brand is the feeling shared by a group of people about:

  • products

  • services

  • companies

  • more globally, a given entity

The best way to create this shared feeling is to apply various methods. There is a multitude of them.

The big ones are brand strategy, brand territory, brand platform, brand identity, and brand guidelines.

We will see all these components in detail in the rest of the guide. There is one that should be remembered because it is a crucial step. Unfortunately, many people miss it: the brand strategy.

A well-crafted brand strategy combines all the elements that make up your brand. Both visually and culturally. Your brand strategy gives your brand a clear and visible direction.

Brand strategy is the operational heart of your brand.

Source: Us, excitedly typing on our keyboard

Remember this term well. We'll define brand strategy in more detail later.

If you still doubt the impact of branding on your business, here are some key numbers to remember:

  • 77% of consumers make purchases based on a brand name.

  • By adopting a consistent image, a brand receives an average 33% increase in revenue.

  • Brands that adopt a consistent identity over time are 80% more recognized than those that adopt a dissonant identity.

The value of branding

We are in the 21st century. A century of innovation and constant evolution. The democratization of the Internet has allowed all brands to gain visibility in the eyes of the world. Whether positively or negatively.

Nowadays, the primary element in influencing your consumers' decision-making is their perception of your brand. It is, therefore, imperative that your audience gets an accurate perception of your brand.

The best way to meet this challenge is to build a relevant and well-thought-out brand image.

Branding allows you to:

  • Create a link and a relationship of trust with your community

  • Communicate the actual value of your offerings

  • Make an impression

  • Differentiate yourself from the crowd

  • Create a visual and sonic identity that corresponds to the image your brand wishes to project

Branding allows a community to associate a brand with its values. This association enables the brand in question to unite its community.

Do you prefer Apple or Microsoft?

Nike or Adidas?

BMW or Peugeot?

We know you have a preference, and that choice was inevitably guided by your perception of these brands.

The reasons:

  • Your experience with the brands in question.

  • Your feeling of belonging to a community.

  • The values you share with them.

How to define branding?

In short, branding is about creating and controlling your long-term brand image through various strategic processes (which we define in detail later in the guide).

Branding and marketing

We often hear that branding is part of a marketing strategy.

Well, it's not!

Branding is a lever with a marketing focus. Branding and marketing are two fields that must work in symbiosis to achieve their goals.

One cannot go without the other. One does not include the other.

Marketing is about promoting your brand and conveying its image. Branding, on the other hand, allows you to structure your brand.

Simply put, marketing is about getting attention. Branding allows you to keep it.

Branding and marketing are two complementary fields that play on two different time frames:

  • Marketing: a medium/short-term strategy with objectives to be reached according to demands and needs → comparable to a sprint.

  • Branding: long-term strategy involving the maintenance of your brand awareness and image (facilitating marketing conversions) → comparable to a marathon.

Branding is too often left out in favor of marketing. In other words, many companies tire themselves by sprinting their entire lives.

The problem arises: if your brand isn't strong enough, no matter how much you spend on your marketing campaigns, you'll still end up with disappointing results.

Wouldn't it be silly to throw your money away?

Source: Your conscience, ready to bang out the entire branding guide to save money

The bottom line is that well-executed branding will be the core of all your marketing strategies.

Ready for the next step?

Ready? Do you feel more comfortable with the definition of branding and what it represents?

Yes? Great!

Now we're going to explore its innards so you can easily understand how a brand is created and works.

Ready? Steady? Go!

We hope you've enjoyed this chapter.

We took a long time putting this guide together for you.

Our only ask is that you take a quick second to share it with someone you like.

Our mission at Hyperstonk is to help fair, ambitious, and upright people make a mark and build their legend.

And, to make it happen, we need your help. So, it would mean the world to us.