There are a lot of confusing terms when it comes to building your business, so what do we mean by branding? Hint: it’s about much more than logos and colors.

July 2023

What do we mean by “branding,” anyway?

If you aren’t driving the conversation around your own brand, your customers or clients will do it for you.

When you hear “branding,” what comes to mind? A) Memorable logos (like Apple) B) Cool packaging for products (like Pringles) C) Great customer service experiences (like Starbucks) D) Language that makes you feel something or polarizes you (like Oatly)

If you answered, "all of the above and then some," you nailed it.

But a lot of people think what we mean by “branding” is a cool logo, pretty color schemes, and signature fonts.

The reality?

A good brand will differentiate you from your competitors.

A great brand will differentiate you, build long-term relationships with your customers or clients, and promote devoted loyalty to your products or services.

Why your branding matters

If you aren’t driving the conversation around your own brand, your customers or clients will do it for you. And when you aren’t in control, your brand perception could wind up miles away from where you envisioned it. When you take a proactive approach to branding, you reduce that risk. By continuously evaluating and adjusting your branding to reflect the needs and wants of your target audience, you’ll stay relevant and keep yourself in business.

The ingredients of successful branding

Because branding means all the things that make you recognizable, consistent, adaptable, and authentic, there are a lot of different factors to consider.


The most obvious factor when most people hear “branding” – your image – includes your logo, colors, fonts, and other design decisions that all impact the way your customers perceive your brand.

Their classic, vintage branding hasn’t changed in any significant way in 131 years and may be one of the most memorable and recognizable brand images in history.


Standing out in a crowded marketplace isn’t easy. That’s why you want to put a stake in the ground and offer a unique selling point/value proposition. 

Your positioning will also inform your messaging strategy and help you create content with a consistent, on-brand theme.

They’re a chain of supermarkets that has successfully positioned themselves as your “friendly neighborhood grocery store,” and their message always relays quality and fun.


Every brand touchpoint in the customer journey – from the first time someone interacts with one of your social posts to how you handle post-purchase customer service – makes up your brand experience. 

Each experience “moment” is a chance to shape customers’ perception of your brand.

From their tweets to the way their baristas “get to know you” at the Drive Thru window, you expect to feel like a valued customer every time you interact with them.


How will you talk to your audience? Why will you choose to talk to them that way? 

Communication includes the words you use and the tone you take across all mediums where you communicate with your prospects and clients or customers.

Oatly is nothing if not sarcastic and irreverent from their socials to their packaging, and that’s exactly what you expect from them. How weird would it be to read something from Oatly in Dove’s tone of voice, for example?


You know that old saying, “Underpromise and Overdeliver”? 

The gap is where it comes into play, as this is the difference between what you say you deliver and what you actually deliver.

Patagonia is famously known as being one of the most responsible companies in the world – a reputation bestowed on them by their loyal customers – because they consistently go above and beyond in the name of ethics and sustainability.


Like your positioning, differentiation helps separate your brand from your competitors. 

For example, you might make a guarantee your competitors don’t or offer a level of personalization that no one else does.

I bet this is one of the first tool companies you could name because 1) it’s been around forever, and 2) they offer a lifetime warranty on all their products, which has absolutely set them apart from their competitors.


This is the value of your brand. Equity can be shaped by things like holding registered trademarks for your assets, customer perception, service/product quality, and so on.

You get the idea. The better the perception of the company, the higher the brand equity. But regardless of how much your brand owns, you don’t need billion-dollar valuations to start building equity.


Personality and communication can sometimes get confused, but your communication style is just one characteristic that makes your entire brand personality. 

The best way to think of this is to imagine your brand as a person and describe who they are: Quirky? Eccentric? Practical?

Rugged, gritty, rough, disruptive. Harley Davidson’s personality is instantly recognizable – they’re the tough guy at the dive bar personified, and they make sure you know it in every interaction.


Your identity is how you bring all of the above factors together to present your brand and your business to your customers, competitors, and onlookers.

Even if you’ve never played with a Lego before, you know exactly what it is (blocks), who it’s for (builders of every age), and what it does (inspires people to build). That’s brand identity done right.

Keeping your branding consistent

The biggest branding mistakes a business owner can make is: 1. Not having a branding strategy at all. 2. Investing in branding only to use it in an inconsistent or conflicting manner. Obviously, your first step to remedy that is to get your branding strategy sorted out, but the second point is where most brands run into trouble. A great way to keep your branding efforts consistent across mediums and customer touchpoints is by adopting a brand archetype.

Brand archetypes are...

12 different “characters” your brand can play, like:

Check them all out and determine your brand’s so you can connect with your audience, understand their motivations, promote loyalty, and market your brand more effectively. 

Using a brand archetype is a great way to define your positioning and personality and keep it all consistent.

We’ve only touched on what we mean by branding here, so let me just say I know it can get overwhelming really quickly. Thankfully, there are a lot of resources that will help you navigate it all more easily.

Crafting a successful branding strategy

Here are 3 steps you can take right now to start crafting a successful branding strategy:


The Brand Gap by Marty Neumeier

In 208 pages, this book will teach you how to bridge the gap between strategy and experience and give you the questions you need to ask yourself to brand your business effectively.

You’ll also learn more about how you can use design to improve customer experience (a topic we take seriously at Grace Built Co.).


The Brand Evaluation Workbook

We created this self-paced workbook to help you understand your weaknesses so you can strengthen your brand in the areas that actually need attention. (Because it’s human nature to continue doing the things we find easiest/most interesting and ignore the tough stuff.)

Identify patterns of what works – and what doesn’t work in your business – and get implementation examples you can build on to nurture your brand.


A Branding Discovery Call 

If you’re feeling a bit lost or just need more support, Grace Built Co. offers affordable solutions for all small business owners.

Let’s chat about your business and branding strategy!