The other day I asked my Instagram fam to share their biggest struggle with building a CLEAR, understandable brand, and the results were overwhelmingly varied- my favorite answer was this:

“Everything. I guess I just don’t know where to start.”

As an industry, we tend to use the term “branding” to refer to everything from website design to what you wear on the job, from a Why statement to custom stationery. 

WOOF. Talk about vague!

If we’re not even clear on what the concept of a brand is, it’s no wonder so many of you are stuck on how to CLARIFY your brand!

What is a "brand," anyways? | Abby Grace Photography

And while websites and stationery are part of what goes into the overall picture of a brand, they are not, in and of themselves, what it’s composed of in the first place. 

A brand is so much more than a website, color palette, or the perfect Top 9. It’s more than a beautifully decorated office, more than the product you deliver, more than your ideal client avatar.

The concept can be distilled down into this simple definition: 

A brand is the perception your audience has of your business.

The visuals factor into it, but JUST having a killer website doesn’t make a strong brand. Neither does JUST having beautiful work. 

As you build your brand, what we’re working toward is a clear perception in our audience’s minds of the brand you desire to be known as.

Key word there is CLEAR. Rather than wooly, stratus clouds at 10,000 feet that have no real definition, a strong brand is condensed. 


More like a bottle of Smart Water on the ground level- clearly outlined, easy to see where it is, and where it is not.

When our clear intentions for the brand line up with our audience’s perception of our brand, that’s when you know you’ve got something strong going on!

What is a "brand," anyways? | Abby Grace Photography

The first step in clarifying your brand: determine your Why. It’s the deep-seeded reason behind your business, often the reason you started in the first place. Knowing WHY a business exists in the first place (beyond a love for the craft, the need to provide for one’s family, and all the other seemingly-obvious reasons) is the basis for some of the strongest brands in the world. It’s a commitment to something bigger than you or your needs, a commitment to serving others.

If you’ve heard the term “Why statement” thrown around in conversation but have no idea what it actually means, go watch this TED Talk by Simon Sinek. Or even better, read his book Start With Why!

I know it’s tempting to want to rush the process of distilling and clarifying your brand, but strong brands take time. So allow it to take the time it needs to come down from cumulus state into Smart Water, and in the mean time, keep asking WHY.

What exactly is a “brand,” anyways?

April 23, 2020

  1. Lisa says:

    Insightful content!! This is super useful for me, sounds like I’m building out a completely new brand as we speak!! A lot of work comes into that. Thank you for posting sharing this!!

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