Branding is often seen as the ability to properly add a logo to a company; perhaps even going so far as to consider the company’s role in a community.
Whilst this is not incorrect, it’s not really a core definition of what a “brand” is, or how “branding” can be leveraged. “Branding” is a marketing practice which is to be imbued throughout a company (not just on the surface level).
Although young / smaller companies don’t need branding (at least to start with), they will typically grow to a point where they need to at least consider what a “brand” means and why it’s important. It’s this consideration (and acting upon it) which determines whether a company will grow largely or not..
The most important thing to consider with respect to “brands” / “branding” is that it’s typically the one element which allows a business to grow. There are many “levels” to company growth; not having a core “brand” offer is by far the biggest hold back for most people who want to progress further than just being a curiosity for a market.
Ultimately, a “brand” is about people, not products. Whilst products are extremely important, the *most* important thing is how those products can be used by people. This very simple, although some may argue esoteric – people continue to keep using products because they either enjoy the benefits they bring OR because it does something else for their wellbeing (increases social kudos etc).
The point is that if you’re looking at running (and growing) a company, one of the key things you need to do early on is determine where your brand fits into the grand scheme, and how that can be leveraged to ensure that you’re able to make the best strategic investments when the time arises.
To do this, the best thing you can do (as a company) is determine WHO your company is for. Ambitious young men? Wealthy middle-class housewives? Japanese people? The best brands are ruthless in their pursuit of dealing with people who share their ideals. This is essentially what determines the core of growth for some of the largest companies on earth.
If you consider – for a minute – that any brands which focus exclusively on the type of people they’re trying to work on behalf of – rather than going down the same route as everybody else (selling mass amounts of “me too” products), they tailor an experience around an end ideal that their audience can benefit from. This is where “innovation” comes from.