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Business vs brand: What’s the difference, and why should a business owner care?

That’s the question I get a lot from my business clients who want to know why they need a brand story.

The biggest difference between a business and a brand is that a business refers to a practical foundation with products, operational, and sales aspects, while a brand refers to all the visual and emotional aspects as well as perceptions that your audience has about the company.

The two concepts are closely related and there is some crossover between them, but they are not the same.

And you should know about their differences because you need both business strategies and brand stories to drive success.

In this blog post, I’ll dive into:

  • 9 ways that a business and a brand are different
  • Business vs branding examples
  • Why you need to know the differences

Business vs brand – 9 key differences you should know

1. Business vs brand – Fundamentals

A business has products/ services; a brand has a story. #branding #smallbusinessbranding #brandstory Click To Tweet

The basic premise of a business is that it has products or services to sell.

On the other hand, your brand is all about a story.

It’s about your mission, purpose, values, and unique approach to solving problems for customers. Your story should be authentic and reflect who you are as an organization.

Your storytelling should also help differentiate you from competitors who may have similar products or services.

2. Business vs brand – Objectives

A business exists to make money; a brand exists to connect with people and build relationships #branding #smallbusinessbranding #brandstory Click To Tweet

The primary purpose of a business is to make money with the products and services it sells.

But a brand goes much deeper than that.

It exists to connect with people on an emotional level by providing them with something meaningful beyond just products or services.

It could be information, entertainment, inspiration, knowledge, or hope…it exists to serve. And because it does that, a brand can get its audiences to engage with it.

The goal of branding is to create loyalty among existing customers while also attracting new ones through its messaging and visuals.

3.  Business vs Brand – Tools

Businesses rely on sales techniques, brands rely on values #branding #smallbusinessbranding #brandstory Click To Tweet

A business might need to rely on tactics such as discounts and promotions in order to increase sales.

But a brand focuses on establishing its values such as trustworthiness, integrity, etc., to encourage its audience to buy from it.

That’s why a business may target more short-term goals of driving immediate sales whereas brand-building is more of a long-term effort.

It requires more effort upfront but will pay off significantly longer term since it creates a true customer following.

4. Business vs brand – People

A Business has customers; a brand has fans and loyalists #branding #smallbusinessbranding #brandstory Click To Tweet

Since businesses rely on products and sales, their focus is always on providing the best value to their customers.

However, next-level customer loyalty and repeat purchases come from strong branding efforts.

A product can have many competitors, but a brand has fewer.

That’s why a brand strives to gain a following, and build a community.

When people become loyal to your brand, they become fans instead of simply customers – which means they will remain loyal even when competitors offer lower prices or better features than yours do.

That’s because people identify with brands on an emotional level – not just because of their features or prices – so when someone identifies strongly enough with a brand, they won’t switch to another one easily (if at all).

This is why creating strong branding for your business can be so important for long-term success.

5. Business vs brand – Audience needs

A business address functional needs; a brand meets emotional ones #branding #smallbusinessbranding #brandstory Click To Tweet

A business understands the needs of its target audience from a functional standpoint. What products or services are its audiences looking for, to make their lives better?

A brand tries to understand WHY its audience looks for these products. What are their frustrations, desires, and challenges in life?

That’s why before you build a brand you need to create a buyer persona that will help you understand your audience more than just their functional needs.

6. Business vs brand – Characteristics

A business thrives on operational efficiency, a brand flourishes with an identity. #branding #smallbusinessbranding #brandstory Click To Tweet

In business, it’s essential to strive for operational efficiency in order to save time and resources. Everything should work like a well-oiled machine.

On the other hand, when it comes to brands, creating an identity is far more important.

You should create consistent brand imagery (look and feel) across all of your marketing channels—including social media, website design, print materials, and more—to ensure that customers recognize and remember you when they need something you offer.

7. Businesses vs Brand – Messaging

A business needs sales copywriting; a brand needs helpful content #branding #smallbusinessbranding #brandstory Click To Tweet

Product or sales copywriting is about writing product and offer descriptions that encourage your audience to buy.

These kinds of copy are very important for businesses.

However, to build a brand you have to create high-quality content that will establish your credibility and expertise, and build topical authority and trust.

So you need to provide helpful information that solves their problems quickly and easily.

Quality content can come in many forms—blog posts, white papers, eBooks, videos, etc.

The most important thing is that your content should be based on your brand messaging pillars and be engaging enough to keep your audience hooked.

Additionally, SEO is key here — optimizing content so that it appears at the top of search engine results pages (SERPs).

So when potential customers search for information online, they will find your brand and engage with it.

In the long run, as your brand evolves over time, these prospects could turn into actual customers.

8. Business vs brand – Customer interaction

A business is about processes; a brand is about experiences #branding #smallbusinessbranding #brandstory Click To Tweet

A business focuses on ways to increase efficiency and cut down on costs while providing customers with a smooth purchase process.

A brand focuses on providing a comfortable, engaging interaction with the audience at every brand touchpoint. A brand will provide these experiences without even talking about sales.

9. Business vs brand – Entity

A business is a tangible entity; a brand is intangible #branding #smallbusinessbranding #brandstory Click To Tweet

A business entails day-to-day operations, infrastructure, logistics, and people powering it.

A brand is what customers remember when they think about a company – from experiences and messages crafted from those business fundamentals.

Business vs brand – Examples

At the risk of being cliche, let me share some examples of business vs branding with global brands that almost everyone has heard about.

1. Apple

When we think of Apple as a business we refer to phones, laptops, watches, and more.

But when we talk about Apple the brand, we think of the apple logo, innovation, style, Steve Jobs, high-quality, inspiration.

Business vs Brand - Apple

2. McDonalds

McDonalds makes us think of burgers, chicken nuggets, milkshakes, drive-throughs, and in most places, free wifi in their restaurants, terms of their business offering.

But as a brand, we think about it as family-friendly, unhealthy, (delicious?), cheap, and of course the red color and the golden arches.

Business vs Brand - McDonalds

3. Louis Vuitton

Luxury brands like Louis Vuitton have a much higher brand aspect than more mass brands like McDonalds.

Though they have excellent high-quality products, especially in leather, it is more the aura, the aspirational aspects, and the fact that they are not accessible by everyone that gives them the edge.

The brand story for such brands, includes their origins, their attention to detail, and the story of each product that makes them popular.

Business vs Brand - Louis Vuitton

Business vs brand – Conclusion

If you want to grow your business, you need to understand how a business and a brand work, and their differences.

You need to create your business strategies and marketing campaigns based on a full understanding of how these factors relate to your small business brand, which ultimately forms customer perception and makes your audience buy from you.

You win in business by doing two things well:

  • Offering and delivering great product/ service offers that is relevant for your audience
  • Being different from your competition and building a unique identity
  • Offering value to your audiences through content
  • Creating valuable customer experiences and relationships
You need to build both an effective business model AND an engaging brand identity to drive growth and success. Having just products is not enough. #branding Click To Tweet

It might look like extra work up front but that is the formula for success.

That is how you will drive not just more sales in the short run, but also more customer loyalty, engagement, and positive reviews to generate more sales and growth in the long term.

Thoughts? Comments?

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Lisa Sicard
5 months ago

HI Poulomi, This is great, it’s the info I suspected but didn’t know as you have pointed out each side by side with some great examples. Now I understand why we do what we do on social media, it’s about the branding.
McDonald’s has really painted a picture with their ads throughout the years to brand itself. Excellent example! Thank you.

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