What Is Branding? Why Even A One-Man Band Can’t Afford To Skip It

Have you ever wondered what branding really means? Is it more than just a logo or a catchy slogan? 

Understanding the difference between branding and a brand is crucial. When creating a brand, it’s essential to consider how you want it to be perceived by your audience. With a clear understanding of the distinction between these two terms, you can create a brand that accurately represents your business and resonates with your customers.

Take NatWest, for example, a UK bank founded in 1968. If you took a look at their logos through the years, you might think their branding hasn’t changed, but you couldn’t be more wrong, and we are here to tell you why. 

Rather than doing nothing, NatWest has focused on having strong, consistent branding. Right from the beginning of the business in 1968, they have had a robust set of brand guidelines. NatWest’s founders knew that they needed to be consistent to ensure their customers were able to recognise them.

That is the difference between your brand and your branding: your business is the brand, and your branding is how you present yourself to the world. NatWest has made sure that, as a brand, it has always presented its branding consistently, and as a result, it hasn’t needed to drastically change its logo. 

This has not limited how they have been able to evolve its brand; it has evolved as technology has become more advanced and as design tastes have changed. This has meant their branding has been able to continue to appear modern and up-to-date, but also that their brand guidelines have limited confusion during these rebrands, helping to keep every aspect of their branding consistent. 

Now you might be wondering why we are telling you the history of NatWest. Well, we want you to start to understand why we think everyone should have a strong set of brand guidelines, from a one-man band to a company that has been around for years. (It’s never too late to get your brand in order!) 

After all, Natwest began as a glint in its founder’s eye. It wasn’t always a big player. But consistent branding has made them one.
When consumers are 81% more likely to recall a brand’s colour than its name, maybe it’s time to start thinking beyond the logo.

Branding vs. Brand?

Ever pondered the age-old question: “What sets a brand apart from branding?” Don’t worry, you’re not alone! We’ve had folks ask us that very thing too. Let’s break it down! 

Brand [brand] 


the kind, grade, or make of a product or service, as indicated by a stamp, trademark, or the like.




the promotion of a particular product or company by means of advertising and distinctive design.

“the process of branding should be considered in global terms”

To put it simply, you should be thinking of your brand as the star, and your branding is the entourage! They definitely shouldn’t be competing but working together towards one common goal. 

Did you recently design new roller banners? That’s branding! These banners serve as visual ambassadors for your brand, leaving a lasting impression on anyone who sees them.

Have you just ordered some leaflets? You guessed it, that’s also branding! Each leaflet is a mini-story about your brand, telling potential customers what you’re all about.

But if you don’t have brand guidelines, we have no idea how you’re managing it because branding should be consistent. If it isn’t, it can’t showcase the star of the show, your brand. (If you’re a one-man band, that is you!) 

A brilliant example of a brand before and after is Cardiff Hearing, who came to Alchemy Branding looking to expand their branding, have more consistent marketing and build better brand awareness. 

This brand has worked a treat for Cardiff Hearing, but they are just about to evolve again, opening up in a new location and expanding the business. This means the Alchemists get to crack open those beautiful brand guidelines and see what we can do to help with this next step in Cardiff Hearings’ journey!

Don’t try to put it together little by little

68% of businesses report that brand consistency has contributed from 10% to more than 20% of their revenue growth. You can’t achieve this if you’re drip-feeding, winging it, and just going with the flow.

When you’re first starting out, it can be an easy choice to just get a logo designed by your most creative cousin and then just try to put the rest of your branding together piece by piece. But you’re never going to stand out if you’re still deciding on a colour every other week or if you can’t choose which illustration style resonates with your audience the most. 

Getting your brand’s act together right away is going to set you up for success. Now this might seem like another weird example, but if you haven’t seen it, Girl Guiding has had a rebrand, and it is glorious. 

But what makes this even better is that the original Girl Guiding brand from 113 years ago is still clearly at its heart. The rebrand hasn’t changed the core values of Girl Guiding, but it has brought them into the 21st century. (it also took five years to finish, although we guess that is fair enough after 113 years!) 

Their logo has had a refresh, but the navy and blue of the Guides, the red and sky blue of the Rainbows, the yellow and brown of the Brownies, and the purple and red of the Rangers haven’t changed. 

This is a clear sign that these colours represent the brand so strongly that the designers felt no need to change them. This makes sense when you learn that colour increases brand recognition by 80%.

But guess what? That didn’t happen by accident; 113 years ago, someone sat down and planned out the colours of the different factions of Girl Guiding, and from there, everyone used them so consistently that they have become part of the brand. That is how you build trust. 

Maybe you don’t think that your brand will be around in 113 years, but we believe in you, and wouldn’t it be amazing if people could see your brand colour and instantly think of your business? 

You should be preparing your brand to be around for another 113 years and start getting all of the pieces together today.

But you don’t need brand guidelines…

Oh.. alright. We wish you the best of luck, but just give us one more minute to change your mind.

Did you know that 53% of sellers lost orders due to low reputation?

What do you think is the best way to build a reputation? You guessed it! It is through consistent branding across all of your business’s touchpoints, especially that brilliant new website you’re building.

But how will you explain your branding to your web developer? Are you going to give them those scraps of paper you’ve got stuck to your desk? (Or worse, just say to them…do whatever you think! That’s happened before, and it makes us cringe). That’s not the recipe for success.

You’re going to need more information for them than just a bunch of colour codes, they will want to know your font hierarchies and illustration style to add some engaging visuals. 

I bet you’re wishing you had a robust set of brand guidelines right now. 

Luckily for you, it is never too late to get all the information you need to know about your brand in one convenient place. 

Take Mailousaur, for example. 

They had a bit of an idea when it came to their brand, but they were beginning to realise that two colours, one font and a logo weren’t enough to get by. Especially when they were also trying to build a website. The Alchemists helped bring all aspects of their brand together in one place. 

Meaning they could sit back and let their web developers do all the hard work. 

We can already hear you googling branding agencies in my area, but stop! Let us tell you why that might not always be the best idea. 

Choose your creative agency wisely

It is not all about size, right? It’s what you do with it. Well, you should keep that in mind when it comes to choosing your creative agency. It is also not always good to go with the only studio in town.

These are the Alchemist’s top six tips for choosing the creative agency of your dreams! 

01 Make sure they have a strategic process:

⭐ Check that the company you’re considering working with has a defined strategy process in place for branding projects.

⭐ This process should be well-documented and transparent, so you know what to expect at each stage.

⭐ Look for any benefits or unique selling points that the company offers as part of its process, such as specialised branding strategy workshops or tools.

02 A solid process that keeps you informed:

⭐ A good creative agency will keep you informed at every stage of the process.

⭐ Look for clear communication channels and regular updates on progress.

⭐ Make sure you understand what’s expected of you and what the company needs from you to move forward.

⭐ A dedicated project manager or account manager will also ensure the project runs smoothly.

03 Make sure you get along with them so that you can communicate:

⭐ Personal chemistry is important when working with a creative agency.

⭐ Make sure you feel comfortable communicating with the team members and that they are receptive to your feedback.

⭐ Look for a company that values collaboration and has a positive, respectful work culture.

04 Make sure you ask upfront what you get at the end of the process – and how to use it:

⭐ Before you start working with a creative agency, ask what you can expect to receive at the end of the process.

⭐ This could be a set of brand guidelines and potentially other deliverables.

⭐ Make sure you understand how to use these deliverables effectively to achieve your business goals.

05 Additional support should be available if needed to allow you to activate your brand:

⭐ Some branding projects require additional support to fully activate your brand.

⭐ Look for a company that offers ongoing support or additional services to help you implement your new brand.

⭐ Make sure you understand the costs and benefits of these additional services before committing to them.

06 Find out who their customers are and ask them how the process was:

⭐ Before choosing a creative agency, ask for references or case studies from previous clients.

⭐ Reach out to these clients and ask for their honest feedback on the company’s process, communication, and results.

⭐ This can help you make an informed decision and avoid any potential pitfalls.

To conclude…

Branding is much more than just a logo or a catchy slogan; it is how you present yourself to the world and consistently communicate your brand to your customers as we’ve seen with NatWest and Cardiff Hearing, having strong brand guidelines can help ensure consistency and recognition, even as your brand evolves. So whether you’re a one-man band or a well-established company, it’s never too late to get your brand in order and start thinking beyond the logo.

If you’re at the stage where you’re considering what’s next for your business and are looking to discuss branding, book a free discovery call today.

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