The difference between ‘brand’ and ‘branding’

By June 27, 2016General

Have you ever noticed how convoluted conversations about “brand” and “branding” can be?

Understanding the use of brand in reference to a company – as in the ‘target brand’ or as a product name like ‘Pampers’, is difficult enough, but to then have ‘brand’ and ‘branding’ be seemingly interchangeable on top of that can be confusing to say the least.

But when it comes to the customer experience and successfully marketing your business, it’s important to differentiate between the two.

Brand is not branding

 So, what’s the difference? Well, your brand is the sum of the perceptions that are held about you, your company and your products by customers, staff and stakeholders.

It’s what people think about your company as a result of their interactions with it. It’s subjective and emotional, fluctuating from consumer to consumer depending on their individual experiences.

Branding on the other hand is the collection activities you undertake to affect those perceptions – your guerrilla marketing, experiential marketing and PR stunts to name a few.

To put it another way, branding is the art of aligning what you want people to think about your company with what they actually think about it.

So if you want to impact the customer experience and create brand ambassadors – customers who are loyal to your brand and promote it to their personal networks – make sure you are actively branding your company.

Develop a brand strategy that reflects who you are and resonates with your audience – and implement it throughout all levels of your organisation.

Red Bull

Take Red Bull for example.

The energy drink company has masterminded a branding strategy that is anti-traditional. They spend next to no money in TV, radio or print media. Instead, they create and organise their own extreme experiential events around the world.

Red Bull Crashed Ice is a prime example. Since the first-ever race back in 2001, the event has developed into one of the world’s most breathtaking winter sports events.

Riders hurtle down 600 metre courses in groups of four, shoulder to shoulder, as they fight it out for victory. The steep downhill track is dotted with chicanes, jumps and rollers.

Red Bull created this experiential event with the sole purpose of influencing the way consumers see the brand. And it has worked. Today, it has evolved into a World Championship, with hundreds of thousands of excited spectators attending each year.

By creating events like these, Red Bull is able to have authentic ownership, reinforce their ‘Red Bull gives you wings’ ethos, and engage people with exciting and unique experiential events.

Hotcow is a non-traditional creative agency that specialises in experiential marketing that goes viral. Our campaigns generate buzz through crowd participation, PR and content sharing. Contact us on 0207 5030442 or email us on