What Does Branding Really Mean?

What does branding mean to you?

Branding is a term that is frequently thrown around and misused. Many people use the term “branding” synonymously with advertising. However, advertising refers to the various media, strategies, and tactics used for brand communication. The key idea is that the brand has to be built first. Once you create and define a brand, then you can begin to spread awareness for the brand.

A humanistic brand connection harnesses a nebulous but formidable force that affects consumer behavior beyond what a bevy of numerical attributes and features could ever compete with. There are many different benefits of a strong brand. A strong brand gives consumers a reason to buy beyond price and features.

You can’t successfully advertise without having a brand. A brand is an identity that has a personality, values, and traits, in addition to being recognizable and memorable.

“It’s important to understand there is a big difference between an brand and a logo,” explains designer Haley Munro.

People don’t fall in love with logos, just like they don’t fall in love with faces (most of the time at least). True love happens when a compatibility of values and interests meets chemistry. Good brands are seductive and magnetizing. They draw you in and make you want to be with them. When you fall in love with someone, you decide that they’re the only one for you. This is the ultimate goal of branding. To get consumers to fall in love with your brand so that they believe your brand is the only brand. Want consumers to care about your brand? Your brand needs an identity that transcends a product/service offering and makes an emotional, humanistic connection.

“Branding is an entire thoughtful experience tied to a consistent look and feel,” said Munro.

Why does humanization matter? A look at anthropomorphism

The process of assigning human-like characteristics to nonhuman entities is known as anthropomorphism. Anthropomorphism, a term coined by Greek philosopher Xenophanes, was initially used to explain the similarity between religious believers and their gods. For example, Greek gods were represented with light skin and blue eyes, whereas African gods had dark skin and brown eyes. Anthropomorphism is one of the ways that as humans, we make sense of our world.

Recent research from psychological scientists, Nicholas Epley and John T. Cacioppo, for the journal of the Association for Psychological Science, observes that anthropomorphism uses processes similar to those used for thinking about other people.¹

Branding from an anthropomorphic perspective positions a brand to be understood with the same processes as we use to think about other people. The idea of making your brand into something that is perceived with the same processes as another human is incredibly powerful. Think about it this way: it’s always easier to say no over the phone than in person. When your brand becomes human, it’s a lot harder to say no.

“Scholars have found that organizations with brand personalities that resembled the consumer were more likely to see customer loyalty and increased sales from the consumer.”²

So, what does branding mean in marketing? Branding is done so that a company can kindle relationships between a brand and consumers. Building relationships over time allows a brand to become known, recognizable, and trustworthy.

Once you have identified and defined who your brand is and built a brand platform, then you can go on to create unique and memorable brand experiences for consumers.

“In my view, a brand becomes memorable when it really spends the time to ensure that it’s messaging, look, style and tone of voice are consistent across all of its consumer touch points,” said account manager Tyson Misleh. “And, this IS a category agnostic test. Whether it’s a medical device, a hospital, a luxury car, a shoe, a surfboard or even a pet food – your consumer should be able to remove the logo and still be able to tell whose product they’re looking at.”

Learn more about the brand strategy process and our marketing agency services.

What Does Branding Mean in Advertising? A Closer Look


1. Association for Psychological Science (2010, February 28). Does the devil really wear Prada? The psychology of anthropomorphism and dehumanization. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 15, 2013, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­/releases/2010/02/100225140927.htm

2. International Review on Public and Nonprofit Marketing (2013, April). Who are we? The impacts of anthropomorphism and the humanization of nonprofits on brand personality, Springer Link. Retrieved October 15, 2013, from http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs12208-012