What’s the Difference Between Branding, Brand, and Brand Strategy?
In the marketing world, the words branding, brand, and brand strategy are often used, but because they sound so similar, confusion is inevitable. It sounds like there shouldn’t be much of a difference and that these three words should go together, right?
Well, yes, but also no.
Branding, brand, and brand strategy are all related to each other but there are differences that make our approaches to them vastly different. It’s important that you have a good understanding of these differences if you want to build a successful B2B branding strategy.
So, without further ado, let’s check out what these three words are really all about.
What Is Branding?
Branding plays an important role when it comes to creating and honing the perfect B2B brand strategy. It is the act of shaping how your company is perceived by the world and your customers. Although perceptions don’t translate directly to sales, they do influence how likely people are to buy from you.
Branding refers to the identifiable and ownable marks that make you stand out in your industry. If you’ve nailed your branding, you will be able to make people think of your brand even when your company name is never even mentioned.
But don’t get confused—branding is about a lot more than a recognizable logo. It’s about a look, a feel, a tone, and sometimes even a sound. Think of your favorite brands—what makes them stand out to you? Those elements are rooted in the right approach to branding and go a long way toward building true brand trust.
The three vital elements of branding are brand experience, brand positioning, and brand architecture. Brand experience includes all the ways that your customers will experience your brand.
This can include mobile website user interface experiences, product experiences, in-store experiences, and everything that happens in between.
Brand positioning is about highlighting how you are different from your competition and how unique your brand and company are.
The third element, brand architecture, encompasses visual language, names, symbols, and colors. All these factors work together to create a coordinated system that defines your brand.
What Is Brand?
Brand, often confused with branding, is basically everything that is associated with your brand. This can include the website experience that your audience gets when they visit your homepage or the way your sales team responds to questions.
To build a B2B brand strategy, you need to have your brand clearly defined. This thread that runs through every aspect of your business must be familiar to everyone who works with and for you.
Everything that you as a company do, the spoken and unspoken elements, is your brand and you should always carefully plan around what you want your audience to associate with your company. You should make sure your brand is always fresh and relevant so your customers can relate to you and engage authentically.
A fantastic example of a company that nailed its brand strategy is Nike. The company is about so much more than just the ‘Just Do It’ slogan or the famous swoosh that is its logo. The brand is all about empowering people to unlock their inner athletes, and it shows in everything the company does.
The most important building blocks of your brand include what is referred to as a brand compass and your brand personality.
The compass is basically a detailed summary of your brand’s most fundamental ‘truths’. This compass will chart the direction of your company and is focused on your mission, purpose, strategic objectives, values, and vision.
Your brand personality is represented by behaviors and characteristics that are unique to your company. For example, Go Pro is rugged and robust, while Gucci is fancy and luxurious.
The Different Types of Brands
There are various types of brands, and yours will fall into one of the categories. Here’s a quick look at the types:
These brands offer tangible products like cars, lifestyle products, or household goods. Coca-Cola and Ford are examples.
As you may guess, these brands offer a service to their target audiences. Airbnb, Lyft, and Uber are a few examples of service brands.
Celebrities are good examples of personal brands, which include Oprah, Steve Jobs, and Martha Stewart.
The brands offer a branded experience and are quite unique. Sporting events like the Olympics and festivals like Burning Man fall into this category.
This is the most unique type of brand and the focus is on geographical locations like cities and streets. The trademark ‘I LOVE NY’ is an example of this kind of brand.
There are a few other brand types, such as luxury brands (Louis Vuitton, Cartier, and Balenciaga), cult brands (Apple, White Claw, Supreme, and CrossFit), and global brands (McDonald’s, Disney, and Amazon).
What Is Brand Strategy?
Brand strategy takes the two above-mentioned elements and builds a framework to achieve various goals such as brand awareness, attracting leads, and boosting sales. A good B2B brand strategy will use as much information as possible from branding and brand to come up with an effective game plan for marketing efforts.
Brand strategy can be the road map that helps your company take the right road to growth and prosperity. You’ll use elements like storytelling and brand identity to attract your target audience and get their interest in what you offer.
Developing a strong brand strategy is essential for building meaningful and valuable connections with your customers. When you’ve refined your strategy to perfection, you can improve your brand awareness and brand loyalty effectively and in the long term.
A well-planned B2B brand strategy makes use of several elements that work together to achieve your pre-decided goals. Brand story, one of these elements, is essential because it’s the narrative you’ll use to communicate with your audience. Your brand’s core values and beliefs can be shared through your brand story.
Another important element is brand voice, which refers to all the phrases and words you’ll use to communicate with your customers. Your voice will depend on many factors, such as the industry you’re in, your audience’s vocabulary, and the special lingo related to your products or service.
Brand design is also a very important element to consider while planning your brand strategy. This is a more creative aspect and includes everything that shows up visually around your brand, such as the fonts you use, your chosen color palette, and even the style of the photos you use.
Build a Brilliant B2B Brand Strategy With GoingClear
Knowing the difference between branding, brand, and brand strategy is only the beginning to creating a fantastic B2B branding strategy. It can be a daunting task for even the most seasoned marketers, which is why GoingClear is happy to help. Our in-house team of dedicated designers, developers, marketers, and strategists can help you bring your B2B branding project to life. Contact us today to find out how we can help you!