The difference between BRAND and BRANDING (and why it matters)

Difference between Brand and Branding

When I was Editor of Flying Solo, we frequently surveyed our members (all business owners) to find out what their biggest problems were. Without fail, the issue of ‘finding new clients’ was at the top of the list. And not just any clients either. Everyone wanted to find the ‘right’ clients – ones who appreciated the value they offered and were willing to pay for it.

This is where knowing the difference between ‘brand’ and ‘branding’ comes into the picture.

What is your ‘brand’?

Brand, as you’ve heard me say before, is what people say about you when you’re not in the room. It’s how your clients describe you to other people. It’s what you stand for as a business.

  • If you’re a financial planner, your brand might be about ‘peace of mind’.
  • If you sell car tyres for family cars, your brand would be about ‘safety’.
  • If you’re a property manager, you brand might be about ‘making life easier’ (because your client doesn’t have to deal with their tenants themselves).

Brand, as a concept, boils down to how people FEEL about you.

What is your ‘branding’?

Branding is the physical representation of your brand. It’s the imagery you use in your advertising material and on your website. It’s the words you use in your marketing, and when you speak to people on the phone.

  • If you’re a financial planner whose brand is ‘peace of mind’, you wouldn’t be using imagery of people jumping out of planes or doing risky things.
  • If you sell tyres for family cars and ‘safety’ is your brand, you wouldn’t use words about how your tyres help Formula 1 cars win races in your advertising material. You’d highlight the ability of your tyres to help a family car stop quickly in the wet.
  • If you’re a property manager who’s selling their ability to make life easier for their clients, you wouldn’t have pictures of wild house parties on your website. You’d have pictures of well-maintained properties.

Your branding – the words and images you use in all your material – tells potential clients a story about you.

Where branding goes wrong

Let’s think about a brand of energy drink whose brand might be ‘freedom’ and ‘pushing your limits’. Now, imagine if that brand put ads in the newspaper with imagery of people sitting on their back patio having a quiet drink. Or, imagine if they wrote a blog post about ‘5 ways to spend a quiet weekend’. Would you think that was weird? Yes, you would. And you’d be confused. And you’d think ‘I don’t know what these guys stand for anymore.’

When there’s a disconnect between your brand and your branding, it pushes people away from you. This is when enquiries dry right up.

When branding goes right

When there’s a strong connection between your brand and branding, it simultaneously:

  • Attracts the right people to your business
  • Repels the ‘wrong’ people (i.e. the people you don’t really want to work with)

Getting that connection right is hugely powerful for any business. First of all, enquiries start to flow again. Second of all, the enquiries are from the ‘right’ kind of people. The time-wasting enquiries that are so frustrating and time-consuming? Those stop.


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