03/19/2014 02:33 pm ET Updated May 19, 2014

Brand Nation

Branding can be thought of as shorthand for what a person knows about you -- your reputation, your reliability, your product.

Yes, it's been overused, but so what? Perhaps the term branding seems so overused because many people and, yes, corporations (which is where people's distaste arises) have discovered how powerful a tool, how necessary a thing branding is.

To cut through the chaos of an overloaded information age, people look toward something they actually can visualize in some way, something they have an idea of, something that can reassure them in some way, that they can trust (or conversely, distrust). That's branding.

But if you're trying to market your own business, or to build your business through a book you're writing, or trying to reach an audience that will buy your book or use your business or buy your services, branding is important.

You should know, though, that:

  • Branding isn't a logo.
  • Branding isn't a marketing plan.
  • Branding isn't your Facebook page.
  • Branding isn't your ability to tweet something clever during Scandal or Game of Thrones.

Branding is the entirety of who you are and what you offer, what your views are, what you bring to the table. Yes, certain celebrities like to think of themselves as brands -- Kanye West or Kim Kardashian, perhaps, and they do call to mind certain qualities: performing talent, narcissistic exhibitionism. But I imagine you're not looking for that kind of branding.

You're looking for brand as shorthand for your qualities, your services, the depth of your thinking. Think of the brands you admire, and why you admire them.

You know they're more than their logos -- though their logos call to mind what these brands mean.

Think of the brands you disdain and see if you can list why you disdain them. Your disdain -- or even your admiration -- may be built on false assumptions. But that's not your fault: it's the fault of the brand itself.