[brændɪŋ] noun

Distinctive wording or design used to identify a particular brand.
- Lexico by Oxford

Endowing products and services with the power of a brand.
- Kotler & Keller, 2015

A distinctive sign that gives a person or a group of people a sense of belonging.
- Own Definition


Have you ever seen something and felt that you belong there?

Maybe its the flag of your country, perhaps it's a sports team, a particular smell, a combination of colors or an exclusive icon or figure that makes you feel part of something - for me, that is the definition of branding.

There are different types of branding, such as political branding, corporate branding, or personal branding. Still, the common denominator is that they all give a sense of belonging to an individual or a group of people.

The most common type of branding is corporate branding.

We live in an era where the purchase decision doesn't only come down to the price tag. Consumers look for brands that represent those same values that they stand for. It doesn't necessarily mean that the company makes large donations to a charity but simple things like treating their employees and customers the right way and processing their waste accordingly. 

They are willing to pay those extra bucks to know that by doing so, they're supporting a group of people that represents the same ideals and values that they do.

Loyalty nowadays is not only about giving points and gaining benefits. Loyalty is a symphony where each instrument plays a crucial part in the song that we "perform" for the world. And the audience becomes so passionate about this "song" that they're willing to donate their most valuable asset to the cause - their time. They will become "brand ambassadors," defending any scandal on social media or even wearing company merchandise and recommending the brand to everyone that they come in touch with.

Back in the days where song artists had covers for their albums, these covers were the representation of their songs. Today, the cover of our album is our brand, and each product that we have is a song.

Branding is everyone's responsibility.

Branding done wrong

On April 10, 2017, a passenger was forcibly removed from overbooked flight 3411 flight of United Airlines from Chicago O’Hare International Airport to Louisville, Kentucky. Nearby passengers recorded the event and posted them on social media. The 69-year-old passenger was a doctor that had to work at a hospital the next morning. The incident became viral, and it was even worsened when an email from the company’s CEO was leaked in which he called the passenger “disruptive and belligerent.”  The incident hit the company hard and became a PR scandal; many passengers have chosen not to fly with United.

Branding done right

Billions of people worldwide choose to enter a Starbucks coffee shop daily. Most of them don't even think twice about it; they just do it because they feel like they belong there. 

In a world where globalization is a reality, Starbucks managed to create a shelter where people feel at home. A standardized combination of decoration, the fantastic smell of freshly brewed coffee, and a friendly barista. It may sound contradictory, but still, this standardized establishment achieves to bring back that "local coffee shop" feeling with attention to detail like calling customers by their name.

And Starbucks customers are loyal not because they gain "stars" with every purchase but because of the friendly "partners" and the company's ideology of helping the communities where they trade and because of the way they motivate and empower their partners. If you don't like your drink, any barista can replace it for you right there and then - free of charge. Amazing customer service!

That's why millions of people decide to treat themselves to an overpriced beverage each morning before heading to their workplaces - or even make of a Starbucks coffee shop their meeting room or office for the day.

The key factor

Both examples have something in common - the team members that are in direct contact with the customers (Front of House).

In the first example, if either the ground staff or flight attendants had a higher level of empowerment and empathy, they could have prevented an enormous scandal, which translated in a drop in the price of the stocks.

In the second example, empowered partners keep customers coming back regularly.

Everyone has a personal brand

Just like the smell of freshly brewed coffee makes you think of a brand like Starbucks, there are smells - like perfume, colors, objects, or phrases that remind you of someone that you've come across with.

I would describe personal branding as a personal footprint. Taking all these elements and building a brand around them allows you to control better the way people think of you.

Some of my personal branding projects

Some of my Branding Projects

Other Projects

© 2020 Tomas Gonzalez de Rosenzweig