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Have we hackneyed the word? Just like the word hackneyed, does anyone know what they are talking about when they talk about ‘brand’ or ‘branding’?
The most tedious task about working in branding is to describe what branding is, to your friends, family, and acquaintances. Sometimes, even people in business conferences need to be explained. Even after an explanation, while most think it is the same as marketing or advertising, some do understand the core of this intangible art. No matter how much they overlap, there is a clear line between branding, marketing, and advertising.
After having to explain it so many times, I thought, instead of ranting about it with other Slangbusters, I should try and put myself in their shoes to understand how the meaning of ‘brand’ has evolved to become so ubiquitous.
Through George Orwell’s ‘Politics of The English Language,’ I realized how languages evolve. We use words and sentences to communicate as soon as we learn to speak. As we read more, we start learning to use more complex aspects of the language, like metaphors and analogies. With use over time in day-to-day language, we learn the use of these metaphors, but the meaning behind those words fade. Branding might not have been in the first edition of the dictionary, but even before it became an industry, the word has managed to be thrown around without context.
Some think branding is the logo, some think there is no difference between branding and its sister industry, marketing. The agency talk, the oversimplification of business concepts, the overcomplication of industry processes, pigeonholing of branding tools, phrase-coining to position branding agencies, all of these phenomenons contribute to the confusion around the essence of branding.
Rather than seeing design as solution-centric, most consider it as something entirely visual. The complex, detailed, and beautiful process of branding is seldom reduced to logo-making and its importance is underwhelmed by these misconceptions.
Design and branding have been used interchangeably in one too many boardroom meetings and are overused out of context and rendered meaningless. The coming generations of business folk are bound to be confused.
Industrial designer Dieter Rams sums up the meaning of design best: “Particularly in the media, design is being used as a ‘lifestyle asset.'” Design in the world of marketing is often pigeonholed to mean wallpaper or superficial dressing that takes the form of something like a re-skinned corporate identity and templates.
The insides of a business headquarters are a really interesting space. A group of individuals make decisions that have huge implications. Most of these decisions are made in board rooms, or in video calls. The language used here is also very interesting and gives a peek into why they think the way they think.
“In line with the brand” No, you mean someone has not followed the guidelines. Say that. Be precise within your organization, it will reflect outside.
Within these executives and top tier officials, there are also creatives who are in charge of interpreting the brand into something that resonates with the general public outside of the business sphere, the end-user of the product.
The process of branding is a journey of discovering what the brand is, why it is, and how it achieves what it is intended to achieve. It is the way to get as close as possible to the creator. It’s significance can’t be more than what it is now, given the approach of mass production most businesses fall for. With the best case studies in mind, branding is related to the brand becoming a word, rather than just a name for the business.
People value connection. Within and with the brand, and this value comes from vulnerability, putting it out in the open for interpretation, resonance, and investment. At the end of the branding process, you reveal a lot about yourself, not just the entrepreneur, but also the people involved, the branding expert, the creatives, employees, everyone.
The definitions of branding might confuse you. That is why you have to find the meaning of your brand. The effects will follow. Like I do for my writing. I try to write with heart, I believe your understanding will follow. Heart remains at the center of everything we do at Slangbusters Studio.
— by Manas, Content Strategist, Slangbusters Studio