10 Common Misconceptions about Branding
What does branding mean to you?
Some believe branding refers to a corporate logo, colours, or icon, while others believe branding is the all-encompassing authentic identity of a company. Whichever meaning you might believe to be more accurate, we often find there are gaps in the general knowledge of branding. Preconceived notions about what a brand is can be detrimental to a businesses, preventing them from realizing the true benefits that branding can bring.
This week, we thought we’d take you through some of the most common misconceptions about the strategic business initiative that is brand, and help fill in some of the potential gaps along the way. Here is our list of the top ten biggest branding misconceptions:
 Branding is only about how a logo and marketing collateral look: Effective branding incorporates many things including visual identity and overall design, but also customer experience, strategic brand initiatives, engagement, and, most importantly, communication. It goes beyond visual identity to include communication that provides clarity and focus throughout an organization.
 Branding is the same as marketing and advertising: Branding is a long-term, big picture, strategic endeavour; while advertising and marketing tend to usually focus on short-term initiatives, specific goals, and measurable outcomes. Branding is more comprehensive and involves all areas of a company. It’s genuine and draws in consumers organically rather than persuading them to buy a specific product or service. Branding seeks to create brand advocates from a target audience as opposed to just customers who purchase a product.
 Branding can wait: No, it can’t. Don’t wait until your business is successful. Don’t wait until things start to fall apart and go wrong, and don’t push it to the sidelines. Before your business even hits the ground, a cohesive brand should be in place. If your company is of an older vintage, brand should be considered before or alongside every business decision and strategic initiative.
 Branding is the same as making a logo: Logo creation is part of the branding process, but it’s only one step along the way. Creating a logo is part of the entire visual identity process, which makes up only one part of the overall brand.
 Branding is a one-time project: If you’ve built your brand well, you shouldn’t need to re-build it from scratch every time; however, a brand is also an evolving, dynamic piece of a company. As a business changes, a brand must as well to remain relevant with the target audience. A brand should be refreshed from time to time to ensure it’s always aligning with the company. Moreover, the most successfully built brands require regular management to ensure all parts of a company, big or small, are executing on the brand in the same, consistent way.
 Value isn’t gained by branding: A strong brand that resonates with your target market will forever be an asset. While it may not always have directly measureable results, a strong brand is one of the most valuable parts of a business. Branding helps build equity in a company, while a consistent and cohesive brand and visual identity system can offer protection for a business, make it more attractive to potential investors, and help recruit top talent.
 A business can be successful without it: Starting a business without branding in place may give a business owner a few successes, but eventually these will taper off. Good brands are differentiators, price, services, and products are not. In a saturated market where everyone is producing these same things, a unique brand that is well-communicated is what will set you apart from your competition.
 Branding is unaffordable: If branding is the biggest differentiator for a business, the alternative is losing customers to competition, so really can a company afford NOT to brand? Branding can be done on a budget, and truthfully, there are some companies that don’t require a massive Brand Guide or ten different logo variations, which helps makes the process a little more cost-effective. Above all else, if you are going to make a substantial investment in branding, make sure you hire an expert, not a generalist, and definitely not an amateur, otherwise it could end up costing you more in the long run.
 Trends drive branding: If you remember one thing, let it be this: good branding endures. A brand should be created with a specific business purpose, and more importantly VISION, in mind — this shouldn’t be a trend. If a brand is driven by trends and not the authentic purpose and vision for a company (not a product/service), the brand would require constant change to keep up with new trends, which would only serve to confuse a target market and plant the seed of insecurity in purchasing decisions. So keep the brand build authentic to a business, not what’s trendy.
 Branding can be done without the help of professionals: Like we said in point number 8, always hire the expert, not the generalist. Branding is a complicated process that’s part science and part magic. It requires strategic thinking, experience, exceptional communication skills, and the background and knowledge to know what sticks, what polarizes, and what inspires. Not everyone understands how to create a cohesive, unique, and comprehensive brand that is easily implement throughout a business. Do your research, ask around, and choose to work with someone you’re comfortable opening up to, who holds similar values, and understands what you’re trying to communicate.