What is Branding?

The word “brand” stems from the burnt markings people once used to signify the ownership of their livestock. In the marketing and design world, branding something still means that you’re marking it—we just use ink and pixels now.

A brand’s mark is typically its logo. We’ve talked before about the importance of logos and how they are a foundational aspect of any brand. So, what happens after you have a logo in place? And how do you utilize that logo to promote your business or organization? That’s where branding comes in.

One Guide to Rule Them All

When you’re starting out, it can be helpful to write something known as a Brand Guide (sometimes referred to as Brand Standards). Brand guides are specific to every brand and they can be as general or in-depth as you want them to be. Here’s a basic overview of details included in most brand guides:

  • How to use your logo—things like color combinations, safety margins (so other elements don’t get too close to it), alternate versions, etc.
  • How not to use your logo—e.g. stretching it, putting it on a busy background, using colors that are not part of the brand, etc.
  • What colors are part of your brand—Typically there are somewhere between 3-5 colors. Some brands have secondary and tertiary color palettes as well.
  • What fonts are part of your brand—Most brands pick 2-3 fonts. There’s usually a font designated for things like headers, and then another font for things like body copy.
  • What kind of imagery should be used—for example, black and white photos, colored illustrations, photos with a lot of light, photos with very little light, etc.


More extensive brand guides will include details for how to set up printed pieces (like business cards and letterhead), how to set your email signature, and how to layout advertisements or catalog covers. It’s up to you to decide how much detail you want to put into the guide. A general rule of thumb is: the bigger the company, the more detailed it should be. When you have a lot of cooks in the kitchen, it helps to make sure they’re all reading from the same recipe.

Logos—Logos Everywhere

Once your logo is locked down and your guide is in place, it’s time to start applying your brand. Where? Everywhere. Business cards, a website, and social media are all good places. You can brand giveaway items like pens, mugs, t-shirts, and those little keychain doodads that do 12 different things. If you have a store front, brand it with a sign that has your logo and company name. If you have a company vehicle, brand it with your logo and phone number or website.

The main goal behind branding is recognition. If people recognize you, they are more likely to remember you. If they remember you, they’re more likely to bring their business to you. And if they bring their business to you, they’re more likely to recommend your business to others.

Make Your Mark

At Bold River Marketing, we can help you develop a brand and utilize it strategically to help grow your business. Contact us today to make your mark.