During a recent conversation with one of my colleagues, she said “You know, I really am not sure what branding means.” This is not unusual. It is a complex, abstract concept that is often confused with your logo.

So let’s clear one thing up. Your brand is not your product, your logo, or your name –  It’s that abstract, hard to identify emotion that you have about a company, product or service.

Branding is what you feel about a company, product or service. It is the expression of its values and attributes.

Brand is ultimately what determines if you will become a loyal customer or not. It is brand that will determine if you will only buy a certain car or a specific clothing brand for the rest of your life.

Here’s an example that is often used to describe brand:

Why would someone pay thousands of dollars more for a Harley rather than buying a cheaper, equally well made bike?

Because it makes them feel like they’re part of an elite group that’s more than just a bunch of motorcycle riders,  Harley Davidson has been able to position themselves as an obvious choice for someone looking to purchase a bike.

They use emotional branding by creating a community around their brand. They began HOG — Harley Owners Group — to connect their customers with their brand (and each other). “People have a basic psychological need to feel closely connected to others, and that caring, affectionate bonds from close relationships are a major part of human behavior.”

Branding should be the first thing to consider when you are planning your marketing – it is the foundation for all your efforts.