My background combo of advertising, design, and marketing often puts me in a somewhat unique position when it comes to any of points of intersection in these three areas (which should happen all the time). It’s no wonder that I’ve been led into the world of branding. I’ve found a great passion in branding, because it is the ultimate convergence of these three areas + the consumer.
With that said, I’d like to start writing more on the subject of a branding, and what a better way to start than by taking a look at how some of the industry’s gurus define brand.
A brand reflects the special relationship and bond we forge with our customers. It is a constellation of values that goes beyond physical attributes to include intangibles (that have tangible value) and, importantly, customer perceptions. It is what distinguishes Starbucks from the commodity coffee, Gillette Sensor from razor blades, and American Express Platinum Card from credit cards.
– Richard D. Czerniawski & Michael W. Maloney, Creating Brand Loyalty
A brand exists in your mind. It’s a collection of associations or feelings people have about a particular product, service, or an organization. It’s what makes Evian pure even before you read the label. It’s why a FedEx envelope gets opened before anything with a postage stamp.
– Allen P. Adamson, BrandSimple
A brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service, or organization. That’s my short definition. The brand isn’t what you say it is. It’s what they say it is.
– Marty Neumeier, The Brand Gap
A brand is an expectation of someone or something delivering a certain feeling by way of an experience.
– Tom Asacker, A Clear Eye for Branding
My definition of brand is pretty short: A brand is a short-cut that connects the consumer-mind to a product, service or company.
It’s that first, quick, burst of emotion that’s stirred up when a person thinks about a product, service or company.
What’s your definition of brand?
My definition: “A brand is now the sum of conversations about your product or company.”
I like your definition and the concept of a mental shortcut. My definition reflects the fact that these mental shortcuts are influenced by the overall conversation taking place about your brand or product. Of course, these conversations are also influenced by people’s experience with the brand, but if you want to measure your brand, you need to track the conversations about it – because THAT is the brand.
I think the big problem here is defining our marketing terms…though I certainly understand the goal of it.
A brand is a signifier of a company and the characteristics thereof. It’s how we remember companies that otherwise we’d forget, and it’s incredibly powerful. Positive or negative, it’s powerful. The human mind can only recall so much, and just as we recall the color red with stop while on the road, we remember Coca-cola imagery during hot summer days and polar bear/santa winters. These brands make it a point to connote a positive vibe, and the real winners become lifelong companions because they were there with us during the nostalgia.
Long story short, branding is a phenomenon all marketers/advertisers/designers should understand and understand well.
I like your definition very much. Really punchy and to the point.
I have always believed that a brand is a perception thatâ€™s in the mind of your â€œstakeholdersâ€ (I hate that word, but Iâ€™m talking about customers, prospective customers, partners, employees and so on). Brand building is what you do to influence that perception. Great brand builders influence greatly, but invisibly.
I like your injection of “conversations” and after taking a look at your blog, I can see where this thinking stems from.
Conversation is quickly becoming a powerful touchpoint for brands. Or really, I should say, conversation is finally getting the credit it deserves for the power it has on brands.
But, like you noted, conversations are usually the by product of interactions with the brand. It just goes to show how important every touchpoint is, and how they are inner woven together.
Robert John Ed,
Amen. I would even take that a little bit farther and say that everyone inside an organization should have an understanding of what a brand is, so that they can clearly see how their actions impact the brand, and how the brand idea should drive the decisions they make.
I like your inclusion of stakeholders (although I don’t really prefer the word either).
I like it because you make a good point, that a brand doesn’t only communicate to the consumer. A brand should also be simple and understood by everyone inside an organization, for they too communicate what the brand is.
I tend to side with Tom’s definition of a brand being an expectation. But I think it is not only the expectation of the consumer about the product or service, but I also believe that it is the expectation she places on herself.
Take the iPod. The brand is not only the expectation of the consumer of it being a stylish, sleek and user friendly product, but additionally the consumer expects to something of herself from using her iPod – stylishness or being part of the “in” crowd or whatever.
Great point Bill. And, in fact, that “feeling” in my definition is always self-reflective. If you’ve read my blog and any of my books, you’ll find one sentiment repeated over and over again:
It doesn’t matter what people think about you or your brand. What matters is how you make them feel about themselves and their decisions in your presence.
The good news to me is that none of the quoted authors said that a brand is a promise. Perhaps we are finally making some progress. 🙂
Hi all – great post. My definition:
‘A brand is the halo of associations that illuminates a product or service’
The biggest distinction a brand has is that it is owned by everyone outside of the thing being branded. It is the full mental and emotional weight that an observer carries in relation to the ‘branded’.
The biggest mistake any company, any entity, any person can make in dealing with their own brand is to believe that they own their own brand.
We can do things to promote a certain view of ourselves, such as tell stories, create experiences and provide examples. We can decide how it is we WISH to be branded, and set out goals and plans to try to create that branding, but in the end, our brand is held by those outside ourselves.
If it were any other way, we could control exactly how other people see us, and others could never influence our brand with their own reviews, criticisms, praise, or opinions.
The strongest brands are attributed to those who authentically try to live the story they tell about themselves, and those around them see evidence that the stories are truthful, believe it, and pass it on to others. I.e., Apple, Inc.
If you can’t live up to your own story, then you’ve lost all influence over your brand, and the world around you will brand you based on what they see and how they interpret it. I.e., Microsoft.
If you can’t live your own story, you deserve whatever brand people give you. But if you can live your own story, it will eventually weather any ridicule, pressure, criticisms and slander thrown at you and people will recognize it.
(the other) Chris Wilson