So What Exactly is Branding?

I recently hung out with a good friend and her young daughter Katrina. Although only eight years old, Katrina is remarkably bright, sensitive, and unexpectedly fashion savvy. One of her favourite television shows is TLC’s What Not to Wear.

Once of the surprisingly mature conversations we had resulted when I told her I refuse to own or wear anything with a logo. 

While Katrina was initially quite horrified by my position, she eventually understood that I simply refuse to pay for the privilege of being a walking billboard.  If I’m going to wear someone else’s logo, I certainly don’t believe I should be paying more for the privilege. I do however make an exception for my employer and non-profit organizations. For them I will quite willingly become a billboard.

While on one level it was good to know Katrina might now be thinking about marketing and branding in a different way, it was also quite scary to think the media had managed to infiltrate the psyche of someone as young as eight.

The entire exchange got me thinking about branding. While most businesses have figured out how to brand themselves, many government and community organizations have a long way to go incommunicating their messages.

So what is branding?

Branding is what helps the public identify an organization or business, as well as distinguish it, from other organizations or businesses.

Although we typically think logos when we think branding, a brand is a blending of the overall image, mission and focus of the organization with the core marketing message. A good brand means coming up with something that sticks in the minds of the public.  It is who you are and what you do, packaged clearly and memorably.

So why is branding important?

Branding is essential for any business, government, or voluntary sector organization. It is about establishing a meaningful relationship with stakeholders and building trust in your organization. As such, it is a powerful tool.

The process of branding helps you understand who you are by linking your mission statement to your brand. As well, it helps you better understand what makes your organization unique.

If you clarify what you stand for within your business or organization, it motivates and instills a sense of pride, ensures consistency and a focus for all communications, programs, and services.

While a brand reflects the identify of a business or organization as something distinct and memorable, it is the images and words or the visual that identifies the organization or business.

The most important element of a visual identity is a logo or “mark”.  The logo and logo type reinforces a brand – it is not the brand – the brand is the essence of an organization or business. A logo is only a tangible representation that works to reinforce a brand.

So what makes a good logo?

In logo design, simplicity is a good thing. A good logo is easy to read and comprehend and should work well in black and white as well as in colour. The basis of the best logos are simple geometric shapes – lines, circles, squares, and triangles and it should be clear and legible when reduced to a business card or expanded on a billboard. 

The overall shape of a logo is best as a rectangle because our eyes find it easier to look at rectangles than squares. Rectangles also work better on the Web.

Most logos have a simple font and it is best to keep the colours to two or at best a maximum of three or four (the more colours the more expensive it will be to reproduce).

Aim your logo design directly at your target audience. For example, a conservative organization would be best having its image reflected in a conservative logo design and font.

Think seriously before you change your logo, as consistency is key, and change could create confusion.  In fact, research suggests that many change their logo at the worst possible time. They change it because the internal stakeholders are tired of it and want something different.  Unfortunately, that’s typically the time when it’s just starting to be recognized outside your organization.

Bottom line?  If you want your message to be heard, invest some time and energy and get ready, get set, get branding.

Posted on 10-01-07


Interesting article. Learnt something new. Thanks.

•Posted by aisha onekata  on  12/14/13  at  12:01 PM


That’s a lot of really useful and well thought-out information you put into this article.

•Posted by Md. Ataur Rahman  on  09/15/14  at  07:35 AM

Add your Comment here:






Remember my personal information

Notify me of follow-up comments?

Submit the word you see below:

Next entry: What does it take to be a Creative Community?