What is a brand?

Branding is a crucial element in any business, service, organization, or project. However, most people do not have a fundamental understanding of what a brand is and isn’t. Too often, there is a misunderstanding about branding and even those who are seasoned entrepreneurs have misconceptions in this regard.

It is, therefore, quite apt to begin the Brand Fairy blog by briefly outlining the  cornerstones of a brand.

A brand is not a description of your business or products.

  • A brand evokes an anticipation of specific experiences among the consumers and the general public. 
  • A brand is about the big idea behind your business. It is not about describing what you do, make, or sell.
  • A brand is different from the legal name of your company, although they may be identical in some cases.

A brand must be short and memorable.

  • A memorable brand name should be no longer than three words, ideally one or two words. Exceptions are articles (a/an/the), propositions (of, for, in, at, to), conjuctions (and, but, not), and place names (America, Oregon, Seattle, etc.). Brand names longer than four words would be better off if they become acronyms (such as IKEA). A slogan or a tagline can be up to six words.
  • A strong brand uses evocative words, symbols, and pictures that appeal to emotions (such as nostalgia, hope, fantasy, pride, patriotism, faith, love, wanderlust, etc.).
  • A memorable brand must be unique and never a copycat.
  • While metaphors are sometimes appropriate, cautions must be taken to avoid your brand from becoming misleading or deceptive.
  • In many jurisdictions, certain words are restricted and regulated. Be careful not to use such words unless you have a legal qualification to do so (examples: bank, university, college, school, police, credit union, attorney, notary, cooperative).

A brand must be comprehensive and consistent.

  • Presentation matters. A brand distinguishes itself from the others by being instantly recognizable at sight.
  • Consistency matters. All elements of a brand must be defined and executed in a consistent manner. To this end, it is important to create a brand document that defines how visual elements are presented, how written and spoken communications would be like, and how products and services are presented to the public.
  • Avoid brand dilution at all costs. Failure to stick to the established brand document (sometimes also called a brand manual, style manual, or design manual) leads to dilution of your brand.
  • Avoid frequent or premature rebranding. A strong brand is timeless. Aim for your brand to last for at least 15 to 20 years. Frequent changes in branding or brand elements create confusions and discredit your business.
  • Be comprehensive. Define color palettes, typefaces, tone and voice of writing, and layouts of printed materials. Branding is more than just a “logo design.”

Free downloads!

Download your free copy of “Branding 101” here

Download a sample brand document here


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