What the Hell is a Brand Anyway?

Can the term ‘brand’ be defined, or is it just a bit of fairy dust marketers and PR agencies sprinkle on clients to make them believe they really are worth the astronomical fee they’re charging? What is a brand?

According to Wikipedia a brand is “the name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s product distinct from those of other sellers.”

But I’m not convinced.

Sure, when you see Apple’s apple, or Nike’s tick or Chanel’s interlocking ‘C’s, you instantly recognise the company. But surely a brand has to be more than just a symbol. It must also stand for what you get from those companies.

For me Apple isn’t just a fruit with a bite out of it, it’s innovative, cutting-edge, cool, it just works. To me that’s Apple’s brand – how it makes me feel about them.

This whole ‘what is a brand’ thing kicked off after reading Dave Trott’s blog about ‘brand Beckham’. Despite what your thoughts are about Victoria Beckham, she certainly understands brands. After all, she’s morphed herself and hubby into a brand worth about a quarter of a billion dollars.

I wanted to find out what other people think about the term ‘brand’. Here are some of the responses:

“It’s the logo, colours and a recognisable style.”

“It’s the name of the manufacturer.”

“A brand is the personality of a business.”

“It’s how you want others to perceive your business.”

“Your brand is the emotional experience that a customer has with your company.”

“It’s just a way of recognising a company.”

“It’s the personality and feel of a company.”

“It’s a promise of what you sell/offer/deliver.”

“It’s what the customer thinks the brand is that matters.”

“It must portray the thoughts of the company and be understood by the customer.”

“It’s the way a company is perceived in the public domain and the emotion and experience someone has when buying into that brand.”

“Farmers used to brand their animals with the name of their farm before sending them to market. It was a promise that the product was of a particular or uniform standard. That’s what a brand is, plain and simple. Everything else is marketing, advertising or PR.”

“It’s your company’s sole.”

“It is the foundation on which you build awareness of your business to your customers.”

“It’s something visual or auditory that makes people recognise your product or company.”

Not many agree with Wikipedia.

Your brand is everything – it’s your look, your ethos, the way you deal with customers, the service you offer and the feeling your customers get when they have your product.

Going back to Apple again, because my experience of them, their service and their products has always been good, to me their brand is that their stuff works, no ifs or buts, it just does what it’s supposed to do. And of course, it looks great too.

What do you think?

How would you define s brand?

Is it just something visual, or do you think it’s more than that?

Leave a comment and let me know your thoughts. Do you agree with Wikipedia, or with one of the other views in this post?


Author: Sally Ormond, Copywriter and MD at Briar Copywriting Ltd. Follow her on Twitter and Google+


Image courtesy of Naypong/FreeDigitalPhotos
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