My parents like to tell a story from my childhood. When I was a toddler they would put me in the backseat of the car in child’s car seat when they would take me somewhere like to the store or to a friend’s house. When we would drive down the highway, I would see golden arches through the car window and yell, “Donald’s!”
Now, I was only two or three years old at the time. I wasn’t old enough to read. I could barely see high enough to see through the car window. But when I saw those arches it meant something to me.
My parents would sometimes take me to McDonald’s for a Happy Meal. I would associate the burger and fries with the golden arches.
That is branding.
A brand is anything—a symbol, design, name, sound, reputation, emotion, employees, tone, and much more—that separates one thing from another.