When I introduce myself as the owner of a branding firm in San Diego, people either nod in understanding or they shudder at the fluffy vagueness of it all. When I change it up and use the phrase “Strategic Brand Agency”, I see their eyes glaze over before they quickly look for the exit sign.

What is Branding?

Unfortunately, the word “branding” has been so misused, overused and poorly used that nobody quite understands what it truly means. I’m surprised that Entrepreneur even got the definition wrong:

“Branding: The marketing practice of creating a name, symbol or design that identifies and differentiates a product from other products.”

The second paragraph in the same article actually explains the purpose of branding:

“Simply put, your brand is your promise to your customer. It tells them what they can expect from your products and services, and it differentiates your offering from that of your competitors. Your brand is derived from who you are, who you want to be and who people perceive you to be.”

We still like the Jeff Bezos version:

Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.

He gets to the heart of the definition—the brand personality.

The what? One of the key marketing objectives in any business should be to express your brand authentically—from the tone of your copy to the colors you use. Everything you do and say (internally and externally) should help express your company’s persona and core values. That’s right. We’re talking about FEELINGS.

Of course this drives my left-brained analytical friends nuts

…because it’s not a template. And it’s not easily replicated (as to date, I don’t think there’s an app that “spits out” your authentic brand story). That’s because if you aren’t telling a truthful and authentic story about what it is that your company does well, and how you’re doing it differently than everybody else, then the general public will take one quick glance at your company and forget it.

Ask Yourself

  • Is my brand easily understood?
    • When people visit your website, read your company brochure, do they quickly “get” the type of company you are? Are you reliable? Are you friendly? Do they instantly understand what you do?
  • Does my brand truly resonate with my customers?
    • You may have started the company 40 years ago, but does the brand story still stand strong today? Is your message still relevant? Are you losing out to the competition because they are telling their story better?
  • Does my brand truly express my company’s promise?
    • We’ve all heard that, “your brand is what others say when you’re not in the room”. If surveyed, is there a disconnect between your customer’s perception of the company and how you view yourselves?

Why You Need to Invest in Branding: 3 Reasons

If you can’t answer YES to all of the above questions, it’s time to invest in your brand. Here’s why:

  1. Successful companies rely on marketing strategists and brand experts help tell their story and communicate their value to desired audiences.
  2. Great brands engage their customers, and establish trust—in the end, your marketing will help drive sales and revenue.
  3. Your brand is living and breathing, it’s dynamic. Continuing to refine your strategy, messaging and identity over time will ensure your spot on top.

Creating a successful business takes more than a great logo and functional website. You need to create a feeling—and an experience—that connects with your core audiences. Strategic branding, a combination of compelling visuals, messages and the right communication tools, helps businesses amplify their efforts and reach their goals.


Founder + President, Project X Brand Lab