Corporate Eye

Branding in the Spotlight – What is Branding?

The role of branding in business and marketing has grown significantly in terms of prioritization across the corporate and small business worlds, particularly with the advent of positions such as chief brand officer and chief imagination officer. The question remains: what is branding?

Despite branding’s move to the spotlight, the vast majority of businesspeople still don’t have a firm grasp of what branding truly is. In fact, I dare say that many businesspeople view branding as another funnel of expenditures by the marketing team that does little in terms of generating ROI.

I have to adamantly argue against that line of thinking. While branding might be more subjective and more challenging to quantify when it comes time to evaluate results, it’s no less important than any other tool in your marketing arsenal. I’d venture to say it’s the most important part of your business.

Let’s take a look at what branding is to gain a better understand of its importance to businesses.

  • A brand is an image: A brand is synonymous with the image of the company it stands for. Is your business young and hip, or traditional and reserved? Your brand image should reflect that. A brand image can also be tangibly represented through a logo, color palette, design techniques and more.
  • A brand is a message: A brand is made up of all the messages your business communicates from your advertising to your customer interactions and everything in between.
  • A brand is a promise: A brand is nothing if it doesn’t stand for something and offer some kind of promise to customers. In other words, customers should be able to count on your brand to deliver a consistent experience or value every time they come into contact with it.

As you develop your brand, do so with your stretch goals in mind. Don’t sell your brand short. Take some time to research and strategize and determine what you want your brand’s image, message and promise to be. In other words, where do you want your brand to be positioned in the marketplace and what expectations should your customers have for it?

Once you’ve got your roadmap defined, you can begin building your brand. How? Read my next article, “Branding in the Spotlight – How to Develop a Brand” to learn more.

For more information, read Branding in the Spotlight – How to Develop a Brand.

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.

I love the definition you mention on branding being a promise. Puts the word branding into a very specific meaning :) I also found to have a high user feedback on branding, gives quite a bit of information similar to your post. Should be helpful to your readers :)

Hey Susan,

Your article was such a relief from all those boring explanations of branding out there on the web. Good stuff, will come back for more.

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