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  • Writer's pictureGayle Carpenter

Branding 101: what is branding?

What is branding and do I really need it?


Some people think a new logo = branding. However, it is so much more. It touches everything you do from how you look, to what you say and even how you behave.

Essentially branding identifies a business’ differences to that of other sellers or services.

Do I need it?

Yes. Strong branding will engage customers and employees. More about branding


Business and markets change constantly and as a result many companies choose to rebrand to keep pace with these changes. Sometimes the changes seem minimal as they take the best of what is working and recognisable, then enhance it. Sometimes it can be a more dramatic and tactical change to alter perceptions. Whether an evolution or revolution is required will be down to the brand strategy.

Google has a great explanation of their approach here.

Do I need it?

Maybe. Sometimes a brand refresh is needed rather than a total rebrand. Be clear on your objectives from the outset. There’s a good article here that explores various reasons why you might choose to rebrand here.

Brand Audit Session or Discovery Session

This is the first step in any branding project, whether that be brand strategy, brand identity or both. The idea is to get everything out into the open and get both parties clear on where the company is now vs where they want to be.

Whilst existing companies would do a Brand Audit, a new company would undertake a Discovery Session, either way, both are designed to find out everything about the new business.

Do I need it?

Yes. But you can make a good start and prepare a lot yourself before engaging an agency to help you take it further.

For example at the start of any project we run our tailored Spark Sessions in person or virtually based around the needs of each client. Find out what your agency can offer you, and be clear what level of support you need. A good agency will adapt to this.

Brand Strategy

An effective brand strategy gives you the edge in increasingly competitive markets and underpins a brand identity. This exercise can be undertaken by the company itself or with an agency (all or in part).

Do I need it?

Yes. This must be fully established before moving to Brand Identity (design) as it is the core of your business. There are lots of facets to it, as further explained here: What is brand strategy?

Brand Positioning

A brand positioning statement explains what your brand does, who you target, and the benefits of your brand, in a short, concise statement. The statement will generally be for internal use, although it should be used as a guide to ensure all content is focused and aligned. You wouldn’t set off on a long journey without a plan or a map. This is much the same. It can also help to inform a business’ tagline.

Do I need it?

For sure. Here’s our recent survey that demonstrates how important a clear positioning is to your overall brand.

Brand Identity

This is the creative process of bringing your brand strategy to life through the careful consideration of words and imagery. Expect several design stages before arriving at your final route. This process will define all your final design and messaging elements. And also provide examples for how they look on all your marketing channels and anywhere else your brand may appear.

Do I need it?

Yes. Everyone buys into brands, so if your business is of a certain size and/or you can afford it, get it done professionally as it will pay dividends in the future. Find out more here: What is brand identity?

Brand guidelines

This is a guide that captures what your brand is about and how to use it. It should contain logo dos and don’ts, typography, colour breakdowns, imagery, messaging and examples of how to apply all these brand elements to marketing channels and key applications that are most relevant to your business.

A small business may just need a short PDF overview, but a larger business with more touchpoints and departments would need a more comprehensive online site or offline document to manage their brand.

Do I need it?

Yes. Consistency is key. If your brand is badly applied and inconsistent then it will end up costing you customers, and more importantly budget, to put it right. Uber's Guidelines are particularly good.

Brand toolkit

This is a package of all your brand assets such as logos, icons and templates, formatted and collected together for all your digital and print purposes. Small companies may choose to have them on a shared drive. Larger businesses may use an online library for easier search and multi-user management.

Do I need it?

Yes. Ensure you have all the correctly formatted assets you need clearly labelled and delivered at the end of a branding project.

These are the branding basics. For more information read our post which explains the costs, considerations and details involved in a branding project here.


Thinking about a branding project?

Request a Spark-up Session or get in touch to see how we can help.


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