What Is Branding? It Isn’t Just A Logo

This is a guest post by Senay Johnson*.

Lots of entrepreneurs and small businesses have a great start simply by word-of-mouth, but when they’re ready to start marketing themselves in a more formalized way they don’t think about their brand and it’s importance.

A brand isn’t just a logo. A brand is a representation of who you are, what you do and what makes you different from the rest. I like brands that are honest about how they can provide solutions to your problems, when there is a legitimate need for a solution. It’s not necessary to be all things to all people, but it is important to be THE thing to the people looking for your help.

If done right, a brand easily communicates what clients can expect from you. If they like your brand then you have a potential new client. If they don’t like your brand, then your product or service wasn’t what they were looking for. And that’s okay, it’s no fun trying to give someone something they don’t really want.

There are two easy ways to start figuring out your brand and what value you offer.

First, read through your client testimonials or start asking your clients what they like and dislike about your services. You probably already know how they feel, but it makes a big difference when you ask them directly. Not only is it good customer service, but you’ll actually start to see patterns and words that come up regularly. These can help form the essence of your brand and even a tagline.

When I read through the testimonials for my personal trainer client, three themes came up over and over again. She always stressed the importance of training your mind, body and spirit, proper breathing techniques and focusing on long-term health. This gave way to the development of her tagline Train. Breathe. Sustain and built the foundation for her brand.

A more formal approach is a SWOT analysis. A SWOT analysis is a technique taught in University marketing programs and used by corporations. Here you evaluate your strengths and weaknesses and identify opportunities and threats within your industry. This is where you get honest about who you are, so you can be honest with your clients about what you can actually deliver.

Most people know about their strengths but don’t want to look at their weaknesses. But just like they train you for interview techniques, weaknesses can turn into opportunities to develop yourself and in this case, grow your business. Most weaknesses listed in the SWOT analysis also go in the opportunities bucket. Threats are what economic, social, consumer and competitive trends are happening that could impact your brand and your business. A SWOT analysis can help clearly identify what’s unique to your brand and position your business for success.

So before you go out to conquer the world, make sure you take time to develop your brand. It will help you provide value to your customers and make your marketing efforts much easier and successful.

Senay Johnson is a branding and marketing consultant specializing in small businesses.  With a marketing degree from Georgia State University and a 15-year career in marketing, she’s worked at some of the biggest CPG and retail companies there are including Coca-Cola and Hudson’s Bay Company. Learn more about Senay at www.senayjohnson.ca


  1. confidence and belief in your brand/idea. at university whilst studying economics all theories fell by the way when the professors agreed with self belief. there is no answer to this desire. vc’s etc will look at bottom lines, entrepreneurs will fight through all. some fail but will pick themselves up and try again. genetic, bloody minded etc? who knows. a positive attitude prevails one way or t’other.

  2. Hi all, thanks for all the positive feedback and comments. It definitely is frustrating to deal with SME who are so cost-conscious (although I think that’s part of the definition for a big portion of these guys) and aren’t willing to make the investment. I find they understand the importance, but just can’t get beyond the “quick fix”.

    Luckily there are those that do “get it”, and helping them see the light is such a satisfying moment 🙂

  3. Thanks for sharing this post Michael.
    You raise some great points about brand value and when you’re dealing with branding, it all comes down to value and purpose.
    I think you and your readers will really appreciate this article of mine that was published at Beneath The Brand: “Does Your Brand Have Purpose, Or Is It Just Another Pretty Logo?” http://bit.ly/BrandPurpose

    Twitter: @TedCurtin

  4. Thank you for your comment Chandan.

  5. Folashade, you are so right. I guess this is the biggest challenge marketers face: to educate non-marketing personnel on the long term benefits of building a strong brand.

  6. Very Interesting…..

    Thanks to Senay for this interesting article and Michael for sharing it.

    I agreed with all above …. a brand is more than a logo, name, color and many more. I think a brand is a end result of all your activities which you have done honestly.

  7. Folashade Folayan says:

    Senay, I do agree with you strongly but the education of this Small Business is key. Many SME are allyas cost consious and once you mention Brand development they see expenses ! Most do not understand the art behind Branding and the opportunites open to them.

  8. Great article Senay. You are correct, a brand is more than a logo.
    Like you said, it encompasses your point of differential and personality.
    To bad many business, particularily small do not understand this.
    You cannot market yourself without a full grasp on their brand.
    Instead, they concentrate all their time and effort on an item that can be copied, their products and services.

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