Is there a difference between a Business and a Brand?

The terms business and brand may be used alternatively in the assumption they are synonyms. Well, this post is about to move you miles away from this misconception, if you hold it. Not every business is a brand and not every brand is a business. The two are quite different and in today’s competitive world, it is important to be professionally sound and business savvy, and to know how different a business is from a brand.

Ask 5 different people what a brand is and you’ll get 5 different answers. For some, a brand is whatever a client thinks of when he or she hears the brand name i.e. reputation. Some people think brands are just businesses that deliver a high-quality service or product consistently. They refer to Tim Hortons, Pepsi, McDonald and Apple, shedding the light on how these brands are where they are today due to consistent delivery of some of the highest quality services and products in the market year over year. On Wikipedia, a brand is defined as “a name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that distinguishes one seller’s product from those of others.” This really just means you need to be different from others.

No doubt that reputation, quality, and differentiation are fundamentals for building a brand. But what really is a brand? Simply put, a real brand speaks when words fail; it tells everyone about your creation. A brand is not created overnight. It’s the outcome of blending all abovementioned with excellent customer service, professional online and offline presence, and storytelling, to name a few. It’s the image and the identity projected by your business.

A business, on the other hand, can be pretty much anything; an online store, a design agency, a restaurant, and so on. It can be for-profit or not-for-profit; usually a company or an organization respectively, manufacturing/selling products or offering services. A brand is actually an output of a business, rather than the other way round. People setup a company first; their actions then either lead or lead not to producing brands. Think of Unilever, for example. A lot of people may not know that it’s a massive successful business. Most of them, however, are familiar with brands owned and produced by Unilever such as Comfort, Lipton, Dove, Rexona, Signal and OMO.

In fact, businesses and brands can overlap, that is, a business can be a brand in itself. For example, Pepsi is not only a widely popular soft drink which serves as a brand, but it’s also a multinational company that produces other brands such as Lay’s and Aquafina. The same goes for brands such as Samsung, Adidas and Apple which are both popular brands as well as businesses.

Think of business as the body and brand as the “mind, heart and soul” complementing each other. While a business can operate without a brand, it often does not reach its full potential. Well, it all depends on how ambitious you are. For a business to become a brand, it needs to exceed its category of origin by taking a particular philosophy or core idea and inject that into everything it does.

So the next time you plan to sell a product or a service, ask yourself, “Do I want to establish a brandable business or a business that produces several awesome brands?” Either way, you know by now the differences between the two.

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