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What is a Brand?

What is a Brand?

In the age of the customer, ‘brand’ is one of those words that is often used in various contexts but evenly misunderstood.

Described by David Ogilvy as “the intangible sum of a product’s attributes.” It wasn’t until the latter half of the 20th century that marketers understood they could create specific influencing perceptions in customers’ minds regarding the qualities and attributes of non-generic products and services.

These influencing attributes of perception were called “the brand”.

Brand Simplified

Simplified by the great Marty Neumeier. A brand is “a person’s gut feeling about a product, service, another person or organisation“. It is the individual’s unique perception of the brand that determines if they will choose it or not.

Funny as it might sound, ‘Brand’ is very similar to a human relationship in the respect that real connections are created below the surface of what we can see and hear. The real magic happens within the actions, interactions and influences that make us feel like this is for me. Trust, honesty, transparency, aligned value and great communication among others all influence these relationships.

Why do they exist?

A brand exists due to ‘Competition‘.

Companies use a brand as a means to:

  1. Differentiate from the competition
  2. Align with people of shared value
  3. Build a personal reputation
  4. Makes people pay attention
  5. Influence perceptions
  6. Make choice easier

However, when you look around, a large proportion of companies often confuse what they make, produce or sell with what customers buy. We don’t really buy products or services. Rather, we invest in the desired change and value outcome that a brand’s products or services can offer us.

for example:

  • ‘Nike’ is a means to be healthier with a can-do attitude
  • ‘Rolls Royce’ is just the means to own a perceived social status
  • ‘Haagen Dazs’ is just the means to enjoy indulgent adult ice cream

With this in mind, whoever offers the most value usually wins.

Q. What if we stopped trying to make better products and just made better customers?