At its very core branding is about story telling. It's not just your logo. Yes there are rules to set (fluid or otherwise), but let's set that to one side for a moment.
Branding is everything. Whatever you do as a company or individual is part of your branding. It's not just a logo or a font. Not a colour or style. Rather, branding is a combination of every aspect of your business (let's stick with talking about business for now).
Your brand is how you are perceived by the outside world. And there's the important bit: the OUTSIDE. Of course it has an impact internally, but the main target of your branding is an audience external to your staff. You need to stay objective about how your target audience will see who you are.
That idea can be realised in a raft of different ways. NIKE use aspirational stories of athletes to convey their ethos. Emirates Airlines show how luxury need not stop on the ground. IKEA prove that you can have stylish living at a low cost by mirroring high design trends and injecting personality with stories (check out the Book Book video below).
It's not simply about plastering your logo and name over everything you do. Branding can be subtle and still remain effective. It's in the way you write, look, feel, and behave. It's in the emotions you conjure and the stories you tell.
Branding is, in essence, your company's personality. As such it can change its appearance to fit any occasion, but its core principles will stay the same. It should be consistent. Not schizophrenic.
When it comes to your branding stand firm. Be honest. And think more deeply than you might otherwise. What's your story? You could be surprised what a little extra thought can achieve.