‘Branding’ needs a re-branding

January 31, 2013

The concept of branding is getting a bad rap.  People toss around the word like it’s an artificial sweetener, used to fool you into enjoying something you wouldn’t otherwise ingest.  But really, branding isn’t that.  Or at least it shouldn’t be.

Branding is about communicating who or what you are.  It’s about having a clear understanding of your own identity and making sure your customers (or potential customers) know what that is.  It doesn’t mean adopting a false or insincere slogan and hoping to fool as many people as possible.  It isn’t about designing an arbitrary symbol to disguise what your business truly is.

Successful branding should be like learning how to walk.  It isn’t necessarily easy at first, but it should make sense, and quickly become second nature.  And when the stumbling infant becomes the running toddler or the sprinting teenager, nobody watching the race should be questioning why they ever got up off their feet in the first place.  

Branding should be so organic that nobody would ever think to look back and question why it ever happened.  And if something just feels right, then how could it ever get muttered under breath with derision?  Oh, that company is re-branding themselves now.  That runner is actually going to try to win the race.

Nobody questions why the successful business ever got started, so why should we question the business that’s trying to succeed?

So maybe the concept of branding deserves another shot.  Maybe we can remember that having an identity, and communicating that identity to our customers, our employees, and even ourselves, is not a bad thing.  Maybe we can demonstrate that communication isn’t dishonest by default and that successful communication is inherently good.  

Maybe we can remember that there’s nothing wrong with actually running the race.