Sunday, June 5, 2016

What is a Brand?

Brands date back to earliest recorded history when they were used to indicate the origin of a product and information about its quality. As far back as 2250 BCE, researchers have found evidence of brands being used by craftspeople and merchants in trade. They often took the form of seals featuring pictorial symbols and text. Brands (stamping with embers or hot irons) were also used to identify harlots or wrongdoers and to identify livestock ownership.
(Source: Karl Moore and Susan Reid, “The Birth of Brand: 4000 Years of Branding,” Business History 50, no. 4, July 2008, pp. 419-432.)

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

More important, a brand is the source of a promise to the consumer. It promises relevant differentiated benefits. Everything an organization does should be focused on enhancing delivery against its brand’s promise.

Combining a few different definitions, a brand is the name and symbols that identify:

  • The source of a relationship with the consumer
  • The source of a promise to the consumer
  • The unique source of products and services
  • The single concept that you own inside the mind of the prospect (according to brand management experts Al Ries and Laura Ries, in their book The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding)
  • The sum total of each customer’s experience with your organization
Finally, another way to think about brands is that they are personifications of organizations and their products and services. In this way, brands can hold certain values, have specific personalities, possess admirable qualities, stand for something, make promises, and create emotional connections with people.

Source: Brand Aid, second edition, available here.

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