Business and branding have been used a lot interchangeably in business and more specifically online business for quite sometime now. But I wanted to share with you the definitions of both and why I’ve purposely kept them separate. Now just as a caveat for personal brands and small business owners I believe that they are truly one and the same because how you run your business should be directly linked the the driving force, the message and mission, and the values and emotional connections that you make through what you do, which is closely linked to what “branding is”. Now for me your business is what you sell, the strategy behind it, and the daily operations, while your brand is the connection that you make with others through what you sell and how you operate. The reason I’ve chosen to keep them separate in my mind is because of the array of clients and individuals I deal with, however if you are a personal brand or solopreneur your business and brand are synonymous.
Now for the longest time I carried the moniker of “branding strategist” without even really knowing what it really meant. After having so many ups and downs and doing my own research and creating connections I realized that it was of great use to keep the use of these two words separate when dealing with clients. Because often times small business owners when trying to implement strategy get confused with the automation and the technical operations to do with making sure that the brand is connecting with the right audiences and running smoothly. I like to think of your business as the well oiled machine like the engine of your car. You don’t really have fond memories or emotions towards your car engine, but you know that without it you wouldn’t be able to go where you wanted when you wanted. Now your brand is the actual experience you have with your car – the nice cloth seats, the heating and air conditioning, the smooth playing radio, and the overall emotional and visceral connection you have with your car. Think of when you look at those car websites and they show you the inside of the engine and all those bits and pieces that make the car run, now for the average person who doesn’t know much about a car that doesn’t interest them much. But when shown the interior leather seats, the plush deck with top of the line navigation that puts you into an entire different feeling place right?
So that’s the basic difference between what your business and your brand is. One is the utilitarian aspect of what you do, while the other is the emotional connection and experience of who you are while and through doing what you do.
So What Is The Definition Of A Brand And Business?
The word ‘brand’ has so many definitions that if you looked it up on google your head would be spinning in the matter of minutes so does the word ‘business’. I personally love looking up the etymology of words when I get confused by their true meanings and definitions. When you look up the word ‘business’ you’ll see that the etymology stems back from old english which it originally meant being busy – busy-ness. Now that intrigued me so much because it made me realize how ‘serious’ we as humans make business out to be. My own personal motto is that life and business is a playground so the original idea of being busy didn’t resonate or give me clarity on what a business really is.
My favorite definition of business is one I coined which is “an entity in the marketplace that provides value in the form of products and/or services to a group of people in exchange for profits or other rewards”. It includes the day to day operations of selling and making connections with new and existing customers.
When you look up the word ‘brand’ you’ll see that the root of the words also stems back from english which means to ‘burn’ or ‘torch’. And I love this root word because it makes me think of your brand as being the way that you burn your business in the minds of others.
My favorite definition of the word ‘brand’ is by artist and entrepreneur Megan Auman and she says that a brand is “an emotional connection repeated over time”. The reason I love Megan’s definition is because it really captures the original root mean of burning – and more specifically etching your business in the minds and hearts of others. Megan goes on to elaborate that a ‘emotional’ means that it makes someone feel something. While ‘connection’ means that that feeling is aligned with who they are and how they want to be in the world (their worldview). And lastly that ‘repeated over time’ means that the feeling is consistent with each interaction with the business.
So I’ve further tweaked the definition as a brand strategist to include the promise that is being made by your business to your target audience and have come up with this definition of a brand:
A brand is an emotional connection and commitment made with ideal customers repeated over time.
The reason why I added the “commitment” portion of the definition is because a brand is not only an emotional connection, but it’s also a commitment and promise made to potential and existing customers of your business.
Now the reason I wanted to differentiate these two terms in the way that I help you is to help you be able to understand that even though the two words overlap that your business is your actual entity that creates value in the marketplace through your products and services while your brand is the emotional connection that you create through your business through your values, stories, message, touch points, logo, name, imagery, products, and offerings.
So think of it this way, you must be clear on your business and brand simultaneously no matter what stage of business you are in. Now as for what to actually focus on when you are just starting out, that’s something I’d like to dive into a bit further. Too often people want to create pretty logos, fonts, and colors without knowing their business foundations, which include: what you do, who you serve, how you serve them, and why you serve them. Now every one of those pieces I just mentioned should have a well thought out emotional connection and personality attached to it, and that’s what the focus on your brand is all about.
So, Should You Focus On Creating A Brand When Just Starting Out?
So here’s my two cents on this – as a business success coach and brand strategist it is my professional opinion that if you are just starting out in business that visually branding your business should not be your focus. What I mean by this is that racking your brains about how your website looks and which colors or fonts you should choose when you don’t even have clarity on what it is that you actually do for people in your business is a waste of time and often leads to burnout, throwing in the towel before you’ve really even gotten started, and not truly making the impact that your heart desires to make.
At this point in your business journey you have to get clear on the 6 Pillars of your online business. This is in essence
- your who (your target audience)
- your why (your driving force and reason for starting your business)
- your what (what you sell)
- your how (how you deliver what you sell)
- your where (where you sell it)
- and your when (when you operate and sell)
These all have to be clear and established before you dive down into the visual branding process, otherwise you can find yourself years down the line wasting money on investing on a pretty logo and wasted time because you’re still not making money or attracting your right clients because you don’t have clarity on this stuff. The thing is that as you get clarity on your business and brand foundations at the same time in the beginning you are essentially setting your business up for success. Why? Because knowing your 6 W’s as well as the 6 pillars of your brand foundation that I’m about to share with you makes you and your business all the more attractive to your ideal customers. So what are the 6 pillars of your brand foundations? The 6 Pillars of your brand foundations are:
- your vision
- your personality (archetypes)
- your values and beliefs
- your point of view and tone of voice
- your story and message
- and your ideal (dream soul) clients.
Starting out with no clarity on the “who you do it for” can work for the artist type model because essentially you are creating an emotional connection with potential customers first. But often this is a slow and arduous process, and you have to be willing to be patient and develop products with your built audience over time.This often works for bloggers, writers, and other similar types of art mediums, however as an infopreneur, service based provider, or product based provider it’s super important to have your 6 Pillars in place before you start to go down the branding road. So if you want to treat your business like a hobby no matter if you’re selling products, services, or your artwork, then go ahead and ignore these pieces of your business. But if you’re ready to launch a business that is a true divine expression of your soul then you’ll definitely want to get these thing clear from the jumpstart ASAP!
So my last point is that you shouldn’t be worried about your visual presence until all those foundational pieces are in place. Heck I’ve even seen multiple 7 figure business owners have terrible visual brand identities, but was clear on their messaging, vision, personality, ideal clients, and tone of voice; which are the only top pieces of your brand that you must figure out in order to start selling your products and/or services. Need more help with your brand? Then check out my packages here.
So there you have it! That is the difference between your business and your brand, which in essence are like your brain and heart – one fuels the other and they support one another.
So if you’re struggling with your biz foundations I’ve created a free challenge for you! In this challenge I help you gain clarity on your business foundations and touch a little on your branding enough so that you can start and launch your right business in a matter of days!
So now that you’ve gotten clarity on the difference between your business and your brand, I wanna hear from you!
What’s the #1 piece of your brand or business do you need more clarity on first after reading this post? And how can you implement it in your business this week?
Post your comments below!