THE BLOG
06/18/2014 10:36 pm ET Updated Aug 18, 2014

What Branding Is NOT

I came across a number of people over the years who have positioned themselves as branding experts and persons who can help build your brand. And while some of them have been quite good at what they do, some are just confused; these are the ones that believe that they can help you design a logo and a website and a tagline and call it your brand. I have come to realize that branding is more than this. In my definition your brand is who your customers think you are, and you basically have no control over this. You can try to manage your brand image, you can try to manage what people think about you, but essentially it's up to them.

How can small businesses and start-ups cut through the clutter and position themselves to have persons perceive them as a formidable brand? It has become very easy to do this; social media has made it much easier for small businesses to compete with very large corporations to help position their brands in the mind of consumers. Having a Facebook business page, a Twitter account, a company blog, LinkedIn page, Google+, Pinterest, all these can be used to help construct a brand image in the mind of consumers, a brand image that you want them to develop. Many large companies have a lot of celebrity endorsements of their products and they pay large amount of monies to make this happen. Small businesses also have this option available to them as well at a fraction of the cost. Bookingagentinfo.com is a database that provides contact information for the representatives of celebrities for businesses looking to work with celebrities. You sign up and get access to the contact information for their agent, publicist or managers. With all these resources out there, there is no reason a small business with limited resources should not be able to effectively manage its brand in the mind of consumers.

While branding is a subject however that many persons have been talking about for a very long time, I felt compelled to highlight some popular misconception about branding and what it is not. Whereas a logo is a part of your brand strategy, a logo is not a brand. Businesses should have a logo and that logo should be placed everywhere, but this is not your brand.

While having a tagline is also integral to your brand strategy, a tagline is not a brand; however it is supposed to adequately the essence of your brand or what you want consumers to think about you. Branding is not something that is solely to be handled by the marketing department or branding unit, it should be integrated into all aspects of your business, from the way you answer the phone to the way you conduct sales.

A brand is not a brand name or trademark, these may be elements of your brand that can lead to having a successful brand but it's not your brand. Your brand is not your website, you website may be used to help disseminate information about what you want to communicate about what you want your brand to be. The website itself should be built in a way that communicates what you want it to communicate to consumers.

I believe once we understand that brands are not controlled by companies but by individual, this will be the stepping stone to fully develop a proper strategy to develop and consummate the brand we want in the mind of the consumers and have them saying and thinking what we want them to say and think. Every company and every individual have a brand, simply because once people see you they will form an impression of you, ensure that you are communicating the right message so they will form the correct impression. Branding is very important, and it's crucial that we fully understand what it is and what it is not.