What Is Branding


The term branding people use it

interchangeably with logo design,

identity design, and even sometimes

typography and maybe we need to set the

record straight.

I know you’re the best person to tell us

what is branding Marty?


So let’s start with what branding isn’t.


It’s cause it’s not a lot of things

people say it is. It’s not a logo.

A logo is a very useful tool for a

business, but it’s not the brand.

It’s a symbol for the brand.

A brand is not a product.

So when people talk about this brand

buying this brand or that brand they’re

really talking about buying one product

or another product.

The brand is not that.

People say the brand is a promise the

company makes to customers and there’s

some truth in that.

I mean it does end up acting as a

promise, but that’s not what it is


Advertising people like to say “well

it’s the sum of all the impressions that

a company makes on an audience.”

Well you know if you’re trying to sell a

lot of impressions I can see where that

might be useful to you.

But from a business point of view why do

they want that? How does that help

creative people understand what they’re


So none of those things are really what

branding is. A brand is a result.

It’s a customer’s gut feeling about a

product, service, or a company.

It ends up in their heads in their


They take whatever raw materials you

throw at them and they make something

out of it, but they’re making it.

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They’re creating it.

And so in a sense when you create a

brand you’re not creating one brand,

you’re creating millions of brands like

however many customers or people in your


Each one has a different brand of you.

So a brand has like a reputation.


So it’s your business reputation and

everyone’s gonna be a little bit

different about what that reputation is.

And that’s OK as long as you have got it

corralled mostly where you want it and

that it’s beneficial to the company.

So we tend to look at companies and

designers tend to look at branding as,

from our point of view, like this is

something we’re doing. We’re telling a

story. We’re making a claim. We’re you

know making a pitch and that’s what we


But that’s not what a brand is. The

brand is the result of that.

And if you don’t start there, you don’t

know what you’re doing.

You actually don’t know. You think you

know what you’re doing but you don’t.

So from a designer’s point of view I

mean I always tended to be this way it’s

like I just had, it was my gut feeling.

Right? About whether this is going to

work or not.

And then I would sell it as hard as I

could to get the client to sign off on

it. From the client’s point of view,

they’re going off the checklist.

I got the logo, I got the tag line, I

got the ad campaigns. Check! And they

think they’re done.

None of that’s right.

You know? What’s right is what happens

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in people’s heads. Like what have we


What’s the reputation that we’ve created

through the products we’re putting out,

and the design of the products, the

messaging we’re putting out, the look

and feel of them, our culture. You know?

How does that affect people? How our

employees behave, you know, how is that

affecting our reputation? All that stuff


So it’s a big world.

And it actually takes in almost all of

the business. Not so much finance but

finances involved too because finance

has to greenlight all these things. But

almost everybody in a company is you

know affecting the brand, doing

something with the brand, doing it for

the brand, or hurting the brand.

So you’ve got to think of it that way.

I didn’t want to say one word because

that was perfect and this is unscripted.

Marty is just talking from decades of

experience and writing and articulating

this. It’s very clear to me.


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