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The difference between your brand, and branding

Most business owners confuse their brand with branding. Your brand is who you are (quality, experienced, creditable) and what your customers should feel (exhilarated, relaxed, trusting).

Most business owners confuse their brand with branding. A brand is a carefully crafted perception that’s linked to branding, which is designed to influence purchasing decisions. So how does branding work?

That’s simple, it’s what most refer to as visual identity. It’s what your customer sees and includes logos, signage, colours, merchandising, point of sale and imagery. Branding is just not your logo but the first step in the purchasing process.

Understanding how a customer decides to purchases your product is important in determining what your branding needs to achieve. First and foremost, despite cost, customers need to trust you. Fail to win their trust and you fail to make a sale, it’s that simple, so all aspects of your branding needs to instil trust and credibility. Just as important are professionalism and quality. Today’s customer is a savvy information gatherer and astute decision maker. This is why smart branding is critical.

Your logo

As it needs to communicate who you are and what you do at a glance your logo should be simple yet memorable. Look at the most recognisable logos and they all share this common factor. Don’t try and be complex, you may find customers will think that dealing with you might be complex.

Packaging and labelling

Visit your local supermarket and you will see why simplicity is the key. When your product is shelved amongst hundreds of others you want it to do one thing. Stand out. You want your packaging to scream ‘pick me’.

The design and colours should reflect the innate qualities of the product and appeal to the customer. But what about the label? Highlight the one benefit that separates your product from the rest. If you don’t, you will be just another product and in that case the cheapest product will always be chosen, and that is not an area you want to compete in.


You would never walk into an expensive dealership and see cars covered in dust, hidden among a sea of other cars. They are displayed in a beautiful showroom, under flattering lights in an environment that says quality and luxury. So, when displaying your product, it should clearly communicate the benefits and highlight the qualities of that product. Reinforce the perception you want the customer to have. Let your customer know you have the product they want.


Knowing who your customer is, what they want and how much they are willing to pay is crucial in advertising. Then find out where they are and talk to them. Every advert you run should

1. Identify your customer

2. Highlight the benefits

3. Have an offer

4. Direct them somewhere ie store, website, phone.

If your advertising doesn’t tick all of the above, it is simply a waste of time and hard earned money.

You will hear buzz words such as branding advertising versus retail advertising. A good advert with a call to action, well designed and communicating your brand values assists your branding. Understanding what your brand is and who your customer is allows you to roll out the best marketing options to transmit your optimal branding imagery.

The key here is consistency. Whether you are promoting your brand online, through the print media, instore, or through the merchandising and packaging of your products, a successful and memorable brand is one that communicates itself consistently.

Your visual identity should not only speak for itself, it should shout out your strengths and benefits as a merchant and the products and services you have to offer.

– Stephen Rinaldo is the principal of Rubicon Retail, a consultancy that helps SMEs achieve a competive advantage through brand building. This article originally appeared in Giftrap magazine, the Australian Gift and Homeware Association’s member magazine.

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