What is Branding? (Is it different from Advertising?)

I, along with my awesome colleagues just ended the 1st Marketing for Non-Marketers Workshop today! Here’s a photo of the young entrepreneurs who joined us:

We had a fashion boutique owner, hardware owner, blogger, writer, sales, artist,  nurse, and engineers! What a diverse audience we had! Throughout the workshop, we kept on discussing about building one’s brand, knowing the target market, and communicating the brand to them.

Though the workshop was kept to discussing the basics, somehow, I got inspired to share with you what will make your brand stick to the minds of your customers. How can you do this after you’ve launched and gained customers already? What’s next? How do you take care of the brand that you built? 

Let me first share with you the difference of brand and branding. brand is your identity, it is what people think of when they hear your product or business. It is what you communicate to your market.


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Branding is more than just your logo or your tagline. Branding is composed of your brand signals— signals that are supposed to be channels to communicate your brand. And these signals can be the smallest of details.

As a simple case study, I’ll use a product that most women use: the hair conditioner. A brand of conditioner has several brand signals: the packaging– the shape of the bottle, the color of the conditioner, the scent. A conditioner brand can stand out by making its packaging unique, or the scent very fragrant, such that when the customers see or smell it, they will automatically think of that certain conditioner.

But branding doesn’t end with the product. In reality, branding is the responsibility of everyone working for the product or business– HR, Accounting, Customer Service and more. The brand has to be properly communicated to the entire company because all the employees have to reflect this brand. The people are also brand signals. 

If your brand is “the best customer service in town”, and your call center agents are not trained to handle customers, then your brand is useless. Also, if you HR does not hire the right people for customer service, then your brand can never be sustained.

How about advertising? Branding and advertising are often used the other way around. Advertising is a brand signal. Advertising communicates to the customers what your brand is. Just like packaging, product quality, and your people, advertising should also be aligned with your brand.

I’m very happy to have been able to help a couple of young entrepreneurs (and aspiring ones) today in our workshop. I hope to do a second batch in March, and if you didn’t join us, you’re very much welcome to join the fun. See you soon!

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