Back in the Old West, once a year, after new calves were born, the cowpokes would gather the herd for a “Round-up” where they would “Brand” every calf. The purpose of branding was to show differentiation (ownership) of these valuable cattle. The Brand states, “even though this cow looks pretty much like any other cow, it isn’t any other cow, so keep your hands off.” Branded cattle are unique cattle, not commodity cattle. The ranch owners went to considerable trouble and expense to differentiate their cattle by branding, and it was worth the effort.Creating a brand today is just as important, just as expensive, and just as difficult. And, just like with cattle, it does pay off. Creating a brand is the next step above establishing a business or creating a product or service. The brand is the mark of pride, the mark of difference, and sometimes it’s the only tangible reason the buyer has to pick one particular vendor from the pack of look-a-like competitors.If you don’t believe me, take a walk through a supermarket. Look at the packaged chickens. They all look pretty much the same, at least to me. In many, if not most markets, there are both branded and unbranded ones. To me, the only difference is that branded ones are more expensive.Now, in most circumstances, there would be no reason for a customer to purchase the more expensive package over the lower cost one if the contents are identical. But even though the contents look identical, the marketer has worked hard to make their brand stand out and to convince the shopper that there is a good reason to spend more and prefer the branded bird.Look at the line-up of TV’s in an electronics store. I think that, if you exchanged brands between different ones, no one would know the difference, yet people have developed brand loyalties and will buy the brand they prefer.A well-marketed brand is the reason why buyers come back rather than go elsewhere because it makes your product or service unique. Branding is an important communication tool to impress your customers and prospects with a difference and the reason why they should return.How can you translate your commodity-company, products, and services into branded, differentiated, preferred products and services? If you work at it and develop your brand(s) so your points of differentiation stand for something, your “cow” will stand out from the herd.