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What a Brand is vs What a Brand is not

A brand is not a logo.

A brand is not a product (in a lot of contexts it is used interchangeably with a product). Albeit, it finds expression in any of these two forms; but a brand is much more than a logo or a product.  According to branding expert and famous author Allen Adamson, a brand is “something that lives in your head. It is a promise that links a product or service to a consumer. Whether words, or images, or emotions, or any combination of the three, brands are mental associations that get stirred up when you think about or hear about a particular car or camera, watch, pair of jeans, bank, beverage, TV network, organization, celebrity, or even country.” It is the feeling a person has about a product, service, or company.

These means brands are defined by people. Not by companies, marketing departments, advertising agencies, or CEOs. A brand is not what you say it is. It is what they say it is.

A brand’s fundamental characteristic is that it is a promise. As a promise, it offers specifics benefits and values and it is meaningful and relevant to its users and different from the competition. It is this promise that makes a brand distinct. The promise is therefore a brand’s very essence; its soul. If it ceases to consistently deliver on its promise then it is dead! Look at this way; a brand is the reason why you buy an iPhone instead of another phone brand even though both products might have the same basic specifications. So why buy a Sony if it stops to fulfill your expectations?

Let’s share these 13 definitions of ‘brand’ from The definitions will help us understand better what a brand is. Savour them.

“A brand is the sum of the good, the bad, the ugly, and the off-strategy. It is defined by your best product as well as your worst product. It is defined by award-winning advertising as well as the god-awful ads that slipped through the cracks, got approved, and, not surprisingly, slipped into oblivion. It is defined by the accomplishments of your best employee—the shining star in the company who can do no wrong—as well as the mishaps of the worst hire you ever made. It is also defined by your receptionist and the music your customers are subjected to when placed on hold. For every grand and finely worded statement by the CEO, the brand is also defined by derisory consumer comments overheard in a hallway, or in a chat room on the Internet. Brands are sponges for content, for images, for fleeting feelings. They become psychological concepts held in the minds of the public, where they may stay forever. As such you can’t entirely control a brand. At best you can only guide and influence it.”

“A brand is more than just advertising and marketing. It is nothing less than everything anyone thinks of when they see your logo or hear your name.”
David F. D’Alessandro

Your brand is the truth about you, well told.

“A brand is a promise about who you are and what benefits you deliver that gets reinforced every time people come in contact with any facet of you or your business.    
Bill Chiaravalle and Barbara Findlay Schenk

“A brand is not simply the message the marketer intends to send to a customer. A brand is the message the customer perceives about the product, which may be something altogether different than the message the marketer intended to send.”
Steve Yastrow

“A brand is not a product: it is the product’s source, its meaning, and its direction, and defines its identity in time and space.”
Jean-Noel Kapferer
“A brand is a promise wrapped in an experience—a consistent promise wrapped in a consistent experience.”
Charlie Hughes and William Jeanes

 “A singular idea or concept that you own inside the mind of the prospect.”
Al Ries

A brand is the sum total of all the mental associations, good and bad that are triggered by a name.”
Roy H. Williams

“Brands are defined by the customer. They exist as a feeling that extends beyond the product itself. The brand experience includes your marketing, customer service, even feelings shared customer to customer.”
T. Scot Gross

 “Brands are decision-making shortcuts in a world of people like you looking for shortcuts.”
Harry Beckwith

“A brand is a name, term, sign, symbol, or design, or a combination of them, intended to identify the goods or services of one seller or group of sellers and differentiate them from those of the competition.”
American Marketing Association

“A brand is essentially a container for a customer’s complete experience with the product or company.”
Sergio Zyman

I believe we are on the same page now as regards what a brand is and what it is not.

Chris Tion (arpa,anipr), a professional Advertising and Public Relations practitioner, is the Managing Partner at an independent Brand  Agency, in Abuja. Follow him and BohoMedia on twitter: @xristion and @bohomedia. You can also reach him on 08033457453 and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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