What is a brand anyway? 15:54 on Sunday

Branding. I’ve bumped on the word quite a bit in the last weeks, so I dug up my old draft post about brands and what the word means to me. Before publishing this post, I read some more and bumped on this book review, which basically says the same thing, only better.

Screw branding theory, for me branding is all the activities done to influence the image a person has about a company or a product. A brand is…

  • the gut feeling, an individual view, a mental representation
  • the connected associations
  • a visual image, forced upon the person by careful selection of still and moving graphic elements, used in every possible event your path crosses with the product/company’s path
  • the connotations of words, colors and forms used by the brand, as filtered through the person’s cultural background
  • user/customer experience, the sum of past interactions with the branded company/product as remembered by the person
  • reputation, in effect the collective user experiences of others as communicated to the person

For me, brand is quite a nice and descriptive word.

Which does in no way make it any easier to have a fruitful discussion about brands. A discussion always needs to start with everybody agreeing on the definition of “brands”. Often this agreement is impossible to come to, thus making brand conversation (feel) pointless.

But personally, I like “brand”. It’s a good word to use when talking to yourself.

Sites that influenced this post:

3 Responses to “What is a brand anyway?”


  1. Scott Weisbrod Says:

    Thanks for the link! The only thing I would add is that a brand is what your customers make it. Arguably, it’s easier to “manage” that brand when you’re a company of 5 versus 50,000; but the underlying idea here is that since brand is a gut feeling in the stomachs of your customers; you need to give up control of the brand but make sure that put some parameters in place to guide it.

  2. Niko Says:

    Or you need to realize you never had control over the brand in the first place, you always had the power to influence only. I think (hope) that good brand managers have always known that. Either because they’re smart, or because on their first week on the job they noticed controlling everything is impossible. I think the worst brand managers micro-manage and just make sure everybody uses the logo in the right place, the better ones think less of specific media and take care of those “parameters” you mentioned and keep the brand on course.

  3. Michael Wagner Says:

    Thanks for the link! Much appreciated.

    This is a helpful extension of the branding conversation. Thanks for enlarging the dialogue.

    Keep creating, Mike