Building a Brand vs Building a Website


Forming a business from scratch isn’t like it was 10-20 years ago, where, to compete at a really high level, all you needed was a beautiful storefront to attract customers and millions of dollars in marketing and advertising to send people clambering through your front door.


All you need is an idea and a decent looking website, and you’re in business.

But even though it may seem simple, just because you have a website, doesn’t mean you have a brand.

What’s the difference?

1. Consistency.

Being consistent isn’t easy, especially when it comes to running a business. And if you have anymore than a handful of employees, we all know how hard it can be to maintain any kind of consistency throughout how you handle things between not just your employees. But with your customers as well.

Where building a brand comes in, is that there’s always a certain level of consistency across every employee and customer touchpoint. Meaning, whether it’s sending someone to your website, in-store event, or social media post, you’ll notice that everything matches in color, tone and messaging.

In other words, just by looking at something (without even seeing their logo) you can tell it’s X brand. Why is that important?

Consistency builds trust (and recognition). And what does trust build?


2. Trust. 

Now more than ever, trust is something that has become one of the most essential elements to building a brand. What does “trust” mean as it refers to branding? It really just comes down to delivering a consistent kind of message and performance time and time again. Plus, being consistent with any and all communication, colors, tone, messaging, etc.

With trust, comes to branding, I look at it this way.

How many clothing stores do you pass by on the way to your favorite one?  One? Five? Twenty?

Now why don’t you stop into them?

Or, say you Google, “Jeans.” How come you don’t click or buy any of the dozens or so that pop up? It’s easy. You don’t trust them.

Have a favorite restaurant? How come you don’t go to all the ones you pass, on the way to your favorite one? You don’t trust them.

Now, when it comes to the world of branding, there is a certain value to that called, “Brand Equity.”

“The commercial value that derives from consumer perception of the brand name of a particular product or service, rather than from the product or service itself.”

Websites, don’t have brand equity. But brands, do.

That means, when you put the Nike logo on a sneaker, you trust that it’ll do what you need it to do. Now put the name of any random website to replace that Nike swoosh, and it means nothing. And not only that, no one trusts it enough to spend money on it until, and unless, you built up that trust, over time.

3. Feeling.

As mentioned in a previous post:

“A brand is a gut feeling about a product or service.
It’s not what you say it is. It’s what they say it is.”

-Marty Neumeier, author of “The Brand Gap.”

A brand is a feeling. It’s an overall impression someone gets from interacting with it. Whereas, a website, is one of the many pieces your brand has to deliver that vision.

But what happens when a website is used as a vehicle to communicate a feeling (or brand)? Now it becomes something bigger. And something you can easily build more products and services off of.

Otherwise, without a brand, a website is no more than information, words, and pictures.

For instance, look at all the types of cars we have to choose from and buy. Now let’s look at what a car is really: a bunch of wires, cables, metal and paint.

Now, put a Mercedes, Hyundai, Toyota, or Porsche logo on it and you now have a varying degree of feelings and emotions – many of which I’m sure, just came to mind, just by mentioning their name. On top of that, try driving down the highway with any one of those cars, and remove any mention of the brand/log and…

Now you won’t know what to feel. Will you?

And neither will anyone else.

4. Clarity.

Having a clear message, unlike having just a website, is something vital to the success of many bigger brands. Meaning, for every advertising or marketing agency that works with them, each will get a clear set of brand guidelines to work off of.

What does that do?

It provides everyone with 100% clarity on how to talk (or not talk) about a specific brand they’re working with. What colors to use and not use. How the logo should or shouldn’t be used. And more.

Without it, neither you or anyone you work with will have a clear understanding of what direction you need to go. Or what can or can’t be done to help move your business forward.

And that’s not good.  

 5. Differentiation.

Now more than ever, it’s getting harder and harder to be seen as different – a question that most prospective customers will ask themselves in choosing whether or not to buy your product or service over others.

But when it comes to having a brand, it’s easier to help differentiate yourself from the competition – and/or change things over time.

Because, similar to a living or breathing organism, brands have their own personality, look, feel and tone and can oftentimes take on a life of their own. Plus, they can even live well beyond their founders – enrolling people in a certain way of living and thinking that can also build an enormous amount of loyalty over the years.

Having just a website?

Not so much.