Marketing Specialist &
(WordPress) Website Developer

Brand Building: How to define and build your brand

One of the hardest questions that you can ask a marketer is “What is a brand?”

Marketers approach this question in different ways.

Some say that a brand is a product or a company.

Others say it’s a logo, a tagline, or a mascot.

More recent definitions say a brand is an experience or a feeling.

Business school will tell you a brand is “an intangible marketing concept to identify a product, company, or individual” whatever that means.

Why is a brand so hard to define? And if we can’t even define it, is it really that important?

If done right, a brand can be your biggest asset.

In this guide, we will break down what branding is, how you can define it, and how you can build yours.

How do we define a brand?

A brand is defined as the collective perception of a person, product, place, company, etc.

Collective perception means that everyone has the same basic perception of the brand in question. Another term for collective perception is reputation.

Anything can be a brand as long as people can have an opinion about it.

Look at the following examples. Can you guess the brand based on the description?

  • Swedish DIY furniture store
  • Free information on any topic in multiple languages
  • Social network for professionals

Did you guess IKEA, Wikipedia, and LinkedIn? If so, you are correct. It’s likely you, and many others thought of the same brand when reading the same description. This is the power of branding.

Define your brand

Your why // Your vision

Your why is the most important thing to establish when defining your brand. Your why is also known as your vision statement. Your vision is the long term goal that your brand wants to achieve.

Some guiding questions to define your why include:

  • Where do you want to be in the future?
  • What is your reason for existing?
  • What difference am I making in the world and for who?

Here are three vision statement examples:

NikeBring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world
AppleTo make the best products on earth, and to leave the world better than we found it
DisneyTo entertain, inform and inspire people around the globe through the power of unparalleled storytelling

A vision statement doesn’t need to be very specific or very achievable. The idea of a vision statement is to inspire others towards a greater purpose.

Your how // Your mission

Your how, also known as your mission, is the everyday actions that contribute to accomplishing your vision. Your mission is made up of concrete and achievable actions with a short – medium term focus.

Looking at Nike’s example, their vision is to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.

How do they accomplish this?

Nike’s vision inspires them to do everything possible to expand human potential.

  • By creating groundbreaking sport innovations
  • By making our products more sustainably
  • By building a creative and diverse global team, and
  • By making a positive impact in communities where we live and work.

(Nike 2021)

Important! Sometimes, brands talk about their vision and mission together.

Your what

Your what is simply the tangible products or services you offer. Once you define your why and how, your what can take on a variety of roles.

Going back to Disney’s example, their focus is on unparalleled storytelling. This is reflected in the wide variety of products and services under their brand – movies, cartoons, characters, books, toys, theme parks, resorts, etc.

Your values

Brand values are guiding principles that your brand believes in and showcases throughout action. Some brand values can be simple, such as “convenience” or “quality.” Others can be more complex, including “sustainability” or “customer-centric.”

Brand values are becoming increasingly important as differentiators.

Customers are 89% more likely to stay loyal to brands that share the same values.

Your Unique Selling Point (USP)

Your USP is the one thing that sets you apart from everyone else. Your USP is also considered your competitive advantage. There are many different ways with which you can stand out, including…

Differentiation MethodExample
A unique problemMonetizing mobile phone games with ads
A unique productAlarm clock with wheels
A unique feature or benefit1 month free coaching if you register for our course
Your experience10+ years in B2B Business Development
Your credentialsGoogle Partner Agency
A specific method or processHelping you build your brand using the StoryBrand framework
A specific target audienceCareer coach for IT expats in the Netherlands
Through valuesQuality, Convenience, Efficiency
A unique experienceA new way of interactive virtual networking
Unique marketingValuable Content Marketing and repurposing on social media


Positioning is how you compare yourselves against other brands in a similar space. Your USP should give you an indication as to how you stand out.

Compare Adobe Photoshop and Canva for example:

USP:Industry leader in design softwareOnline Design Made Easy
Target Audience:Creative professionalsPeople with no design experience
Price:Starts at 21$+ per monthFree, Pro version for 30$ per month
Main Benefit:VersatilitySimplicity
Main Drawback:Learning curveLimited design options

Comparing these two platforms, both of them are used to make graphics. Adobe Photoshop is positioned as the industry leader and is almost the default graphic design software among creative professionals.

However, most business owners may find Adobe Photoshop too complicated or too expensive for their needs. Canva makes design simple and convenient for them.

On the other hand, creative professionals who are familiar with Adobe Photoshop’s versatility may find Canva too constraining for what they want to achieve.

Brand vs Brand Identity

A brand identity is all the visual elements that a brand can use to be recognized visually. These include assets like logos, colors, fonts, imagery, and so on.

A brand identity is not a brand. Your logo is not your brand!

A brand identity can help customers recognize your brand and distinguish it from other brands using visual cues.

The role of a brand identity is to remind the customer of associations they already have from interacting with your brand.

Branding vs Marketing

Branding and marketing have an interesting relationship. From a functional perspective, branding is often associated with the Marketing Department.

As communication methods have evolved, so has branding. We’ve defined a brand as the collective perception of a person, product, place, company, and so on.

Marketing still plays a huge role in how brands can shape their reputation. Since Marketing heavily involves communicating to end users, a company’s messaging is key towards shaping their customer’s opinions.

However, this perception can also be influenced by a brand’s actions in other departments.

For example, supply chain transparency, company culture, and social responsibility are factors that can influence how a brand is perceived.

Likewise, a strong brand makes marketing efforts more effective if customers already have a positive image of your brand.

There’s a saying that marketing is like asking someone on a date, branding is the reason they say yes.

External branding factors

Several factors that can also contribute to a brand’s reputation over which the brand does not have direct control.

Customer’s opinions:

On the smallest scale, your customer’s interactions with your brand will directly influence how they perceive your brand.

Different people have different needs and preferences. What may appeal to some may not appeal to others.

Word of Mouth
People talk and share experiences. On a small scale, this would involve people referring your brand to people in their network who may need it.

On the other hand, people with a negative impression of your brand may urge others to stay away from engaging with you.

On a slightly larger scale, people may publish their reviews (positive, negative, or neutral) online.

Published Content
Published content is very similar to word of mouth, except it is designed for a larger audience. Examples of published content could include

– unboxing and product review videos

– people sharing their experiences on their own social media platforms

– professional opinions on the news or media sites (like CNET)


Sometimes, the actions of our competition can influence how our brand is perceived. This, however, is highly contextual and could be influenced by politics, industry changes, or shifting consumer preferences.

A famous recent example is Skype. While most people know Skype to be the leading video conferencing platform in the 2000s, this title now belongs to Zoom.

During the pandemic, Zoom launched an aggressive campaign that, together with word of mouth, led them to become the norm across the globe.

Personal Branding

A person can also be a brand. Everyone has their own brand, whether they choose to act on it or not. To understand what your personal brand is, ask yourself this question:

How would someone I know describe me to a stranger?

To get a better insight as to what your personal brand actually is, ask your friends and colleagues how they would describe you to a stranger. Pay attention to what stands out – your work ethic, personality, any behaviors you exhibit, your expertise.

In my case, my friends would describe me as “the marketing guy with all the dad jokes.”

How to build your brand

Now that we know how to define a brand, the next step is to build a brand. When defining your brand, you’ve already determined what makes you stand out.

Brand building is all about consistently providing value and reinforcing your brand definition across your business.  

For example, if your brand stands out by improving customer’s user experiences, your brand should also have a good user experience for your customers.

If your brand is focused on sustainability, this value should be reinforced from production to distribution to marketing to the company workspace design.

How content marketing can build your brand

Content marketing is the most effective way to build your brand. Compared to other marketing and advertising methods, content marketing focuses on empowering your customers to achieve their goals.

By leading with value, you attract the prospects you can benefit the most.

If you’re new to content marketing, click here to read the beginner’s guide.

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