You know it’s easier to just rip off the band-aid with a quick swipe so I’ll start with a statement that may hurt a bit – you’re logo is not your brand and you do not build your brand by making you logo bigger.

Maybe you have heard of brand marketing and know the importance of developing your brand. Until one dives into branding, it is easy to think that your “brand” is just another word for your “logo”. Your logo is just the beginning. Your brand is the experience your customers, clients and potential buyers get from you and their relationship with you, not the other way around. Brand marketing is about developing that relationship with consumers and embracing their experiences with you.

What is the difference between Wal-mart and Target? Many would agree that Wal-mart has the best prices, but Target has a better experience. Target’s stores are cleaner, products a bit nicer and Target has cooler television ads. Is this true or is it just what people experience? What do your customers think about your company? Good, bad, indifferent?

So, what makes up a brand? Your logo is part of it as well as each communication piece to the consumer otherwise known as client “touch”. This includes your website, brochures, stationery, press releases, signage, store/office interior, advertising (including radio, television, print, outdoor) and sponsorships. All these items are your brand as well as how you answer the phones, treat customers, and what others say about you are all apart of your brand. Ouch, that’s a lot. This is where advertising, marketing, design, public relations, and research companies come in for the larger companies. For the smaller businesses, some of this comes down to your instincts as an owner and just keeping a grip on why you are in business. Most likely, you are in business because you have a product or service that no one does as well as you. Your brand starts with that– the reason why you are in business and continues to grow with why your business is different from your competitors. (Fancy term – brand differentiation.) Those two items are the foundation of your brand and what your customers experience. The other areas, like advertising and marketing, are the avenues that disperse your brand; public relations manages your brand.

What is the best way to build your brand? How do you maintain your brand? You need to put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Doing this will help you experience what your customers experience with your brand. If you like the experience, how can you make it stronger? If you disliked or absolutely hated the experience, what are you going to do about improving that experience? In a recent article about Target in Fortune, the Taret brand is built around the CEO and his executive team walking the sales floor as an employee and as a customer. They simply look around, without blinders, noticing what experiences engage them and tie them to the brand. Can you walk in your customer’s shoes?

All the advertising in the world is just wasted money if the experience when using your product, shopping your store or utilizing your service does not meet the expectations. Remember how you felt when you were mislead by an advertisement when the experience did not meet your expectations? Have you had an experience that far exceeded your expectations? Which would you rather your customer have with your company and with your brand?

Now, that was not so bad. Remember your brand is more than just that logo.