Just like with the term brand, many people confuse branding as the action of applying their logo and corporate identity on all company materials or engaging in awareness campaigns. While these may be components of branding, on their own they do not achieve the function and processes of a brand.
Branding is actually the range of activities undertaken and elements used to shape perceptions of a company.
The result of these activities and elements combined is your brand. In order to effectively build a positive brand perception—both internally and externally, you must engage in both internal and external activities which are aligned to deliver a consistent impression of who you are, how you are different/superior, and why people should care.
Branding is about bringing your brand strategy to life.
Branding activities and elements include but are not limited too, vision, mission, key messaging, tag line/slogan, brand values, personality, promise and experience, management and training, as well as brand/corporate identity (logo, icons, colour scheme, key visuals), signage, sales/marketing materials, staff uniforms, environments, advertising, website/online presence, communications (internal/external), and customer interactions.
Since companies cannot directly control how the market perceives them, branding provides the best opportunity to directly influence perceptions.