What is branding?

A stack of books on branding next to an iMac and a vase with cherry blossom
Photo by J. Kelly Brito / Unsplash

To start, let’s understand what a brand is: it’s not a logo, or a slogan, or the colours you choose. Your brand is the sum of others’ experiences with you. When you think of it this way, it’s easy to understand how both an organization’s brand, or a person’s brand, is so important.

Ultimately, your brand is not in your control. It’s in the perceptions and feelings of those you can interact with. But you can heavily influence how your brand is perceived, and you can deliver an experience that matches the perception to create brand resonance.

When you’re able to consistently deliver on your brand, you build trust, expectations and a relationship. It takes many different tactics to accomplish this, but in an online environment, your domain is one of the most important pieces.

Email as branding

A woman's hands on the keyboard of a laptop in a café
Photo by Christin Hume / Unsplash

Your email address can say a lot about you and your brand. Having an email address with your business’s domain conveys credibility, savvy and professionalism. Using a third-party provider, such as Gmail or Hotmail, can reduce your recipient’s confidence in your brand.

The first part of your email address (before the @domain) can also convey different connotations, and if you consider them, you can better position yourself for the perception you intend. For instance, if your address is jamie.jackson@example.com, it can give the impression that your company is large enough to warrant identifying first names and last names, since there are or may be multiple Jamies. If you use jamie@example.com, it can suggest that your organization is smaller, or that you’re just the most important Jamie.

If you use a generic email address, such as sales@example.com, it suggests that the recipient may be a group or team – which could have its own positive and negative connotations. Generic email addresses are generally not very good for personal networking. Clever or witty addresses can help express your brand’s creativity or humour, if that’s part of what you want your audience to perceive about you. EG: idlikean@example.com could be a good sales alternative, or tellmemore@example.com has more character than a genericinfo@example.com address.

Website as branding

A potted plant on a notebook next to an iPhone and a MacBook
Photo by Kevin Bhagat / Unsplash

It’s no surprise that the primary domain you choose for your website has a large impact on your brand. As most people know, your domains should be concise, memorable, and descriptive. Frequently, people undertake a business or venture and plan out their branding with a name, logo and positioning. But it’s very important to make sure that 1) a relevant domain is available to you and that 2) nobody else is pursuing another venture with the same name or brand. Without securing your domain as early as possible, you risk having to re-work your brand or settle on a domain that won’t be as relevant to your visitors.

The TLD you use is also important: by using your local ccTLD (country code top level domain), you identify that your brand is part of that nationality. By using gTLDs, you can suggest that your brand is generically available worldwide (.COM), an important organization (.ORG), a forward-thinking startup (.CO), or even focused on adult content (.XXX). Your TLD helps your audience understand a bit about your brand before your website is even visited.

Products as branding

Basket of pineapples and bottles of natural juice.
Photo by Toa Heftiba / Unsplash

If you have branded products (or services), particularly if they’re well-known by name over competitors, it is a very worthwhile investment to secure your product name as domains in relevant TLDs. You can then create specialized landing pages for those products that guide your customers into a sales funnel, either on the standalone site or your main website. You can also re-direct the domains to specific pages or sections of your website. For instance, the address ipod.com resolves to apple.com’s section for iPods.

Overall, the important lesson is this: your domains communicate an important message about your brand, and influence your audience’s perceptions. Your domains are flexible and meant to accommodate a wide range of uses. As the registrant, it’s in your power to register and use them as you see fit: so make the most of it!