As an entrepreneur in the digital age, you’ve got a lot to juggle. You probably know that online marketing is vital for growing your business, and you’ve probably read about the importance of branding. Perhaps, you’ve run into terms about branding that make you scratch your head, especially when some of the terms sound like they’re referring to the same things. The terms are different, even though they’re often interrelated, and each one refers to a particular aspect of how to build a brand that will grab the attention of your prospects and turn them into customers.

Brand

Many people assume that a brand is a business’ logo. A logo, though, is only a small subset of a brand. Your brand is your business’ presence in the world. It’s what people experience when they encounter your business, whether online or offline. Your brand is the sum total of your brand’s voice, content, and yes, the choices you make for your brand about its logo and other visuals. According to a study conducted by the VCU School of Business and the University of Texas at El Paso, the most successful brands are those that encourage people to feel more confident and powerful. What makes your business special? Well, that’s your brand.

Brand Experience

While the concept of “brand” is on your end, the business end, the concept of “brand experience” is on your customers’ end. The term includes elements that are in your control, such as your marketing efforts, and other elements that are out of your control, such as word of mouth. When customers and prospects react to your brand, whether they’re buying one of your products, commenting on a blog post, or having a chat on your business’ Facebook page, each action becomes part and parcel of their brand experience.

Brand Recognition

This is related to both brand image and brand experience, but brand recognition is all about the A-Ha. You see a Nike swoosh, and you think about Nike shoes. You see the white Coca-Cola typeface on its timeless red background, and you think about sweet, refreshing soda. Perhaps these power brands also evoke memories of childhood when you sat up in a tree with your Nike-clad feet dangling down, or your mom would bring you and your friends Cokes on a hot summer day. Strong brand recognition means people see your logo or the name of your business and say, “A-Ha!”

Branding

Let’s say you sell upscale women’s clothing. Your brand might be about making women feel glamorous. So your branding efforts will be all the specific actions you take to create, maintain, and enhance your brand. Branding consists of everything you do as an entrepreneur to elicit specific positive responses to your business, which includes but isn’t limited to social media marketing, content marketing, designing your visuals and your website, marketing your products or services both online and offline, and providing high-quality customer service for people who need help. For maximum effectiveness, everything you do for your business should fall under the umbrella of branding.

Identity

In case you were wondering, here’s where your logo comes in. Your brand’s identity is made up of your business’ logo as well as other visuals like typefaces, colors, and other design elements that make your brand recognizable. When people see the distinctive fruit logo on the products sold by the business Steve Jobs started, they immediately perceive “Apple,” not the fruit but the brand, how it makes them feel, and their specific, personal experiences with it. Your identity is as distinctive as your brand, but your identity is made up of specific elements that you create to give people something to relate to in their experiences with your business. Identity is related to brand recognition in that to have strong brand recognition, you need to have done a good job creating your brand’s identity. Got it? Okay. Moving on.

Image

“Image” is about how people perceive your brand. It’s related to brand experience, but it’s not the same thing. You can think of “image” as a snapshot in your customers’ minds of the sum total, so far, of their experiences with your brand. Your brand’s image is also related to its identity but with a big difference. You create and control the identity, but it’s customers who perceive and experience the image. Since the image is about the perspective of your customers, it’s not necessarily something you can control. You can work to shift people’s image of your brand if you believe it’s off the mark, but once your brand’s image becomes established in people’s minds, it can be a slow, tough process to change it.

Intangibles

Your brand’s intangibles are things you can’t touch but which have a positive effect on your business. These include your logo, various design elements of your website and your marketing emails, and the consistent style and voice you use in your social media and content marketing. All these factors contribute to your brand’s unique vibe. One of the best intangible assets for your business is word-of-mouth from happy customers, and let’s face it, we all want happy customers.

Tangibles

Tangibles are the physical, material parts of your brand that can be touched, like your products and their packaging as well as bricks-and-mortar buildings and manufacturing plants. Like intangibles, your tangibles contribute to your brand’s good vibrations. Those happy customers in the example above? Well, their positive word of mouth is an intangible asset, but the happy customers themselves are very much tangible assets. They’re what keep your business not only afloat but hopefully growing by leaps and bounds year by year.

If you’d like to go into more depth about all this branding stuff, please drop us a line. We’d be delighted to chat with you about your business and branding needs. We specialize in business branding identities and custom website design. If you are looking for additional graphic design needs, contact us to see if we are the right fit. We love working with businesses from all over the world and especially the Houston, Bryan College Station, and Austin markets.