Branding is a fascinating word that seems to have many definitions behind it. You might have even hear the word “brand” used to mean a business or company, product or service, a person, team or movement and so on.
So below are twelve definitions, I found, used to describe what a brand is by advertisers, marketers and thought leaders in their respective fields.
I’ve also added links to their social media pages and published books in case you want to learn more on the topic of defining a brand & what is the meaning of Branding.
[related article: How to Brand Yourself Online Using Social Media]
A brand symbol as “anything that leaves a mental picture of the brand’s identity. Leo Burnett
Brand is the sum total of how someone perceives a particular organization. Branding is about shaping that perception. Ashley Friedlein – Delivering Successful Commercial Web Sites
A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another. If the consumer (whether it’s a business, a buyer, a voter or a donor) doesn’t pay a premium, make a selection or spread the word, then no brand value exists for that consumer. Seth Godin – Author of Permission Marketing
Branding is the sub-total of all the “experiences” your customers have with your business. For successful branding you need to understand the principles of Ivan Pavlov as my brother Jeffrey and I discussed in our Waiting For Your Cat to Bark. For branding to work you must have:
- Consistency. Pavlov never offered food without ringing the bell and never rang the bell without offering food.
- Frequency. The bell rang several times a day, day after day.
- Anchoring. Pavlov tied the experiment to something about which the dog was emotional. Frequency and consistency create branding only when the message is associated with an emotional anchor. This is the most difficult and essential element to get correct.
However, keep in mind Pavlov had an easier time because he chose dogs which are much better at following a leader, today’s customers are more cat like and not as easily persuaded or motivated. Bryan Eisenberg Author of Waiting for Your Cat to Bark
A brand is 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 the competitor. Phillip Kotler – Author of Marketing Management
Branding is the defined personality of a product, service, company, organization or individual. Many folks confuse “having a logo” for an ongoing branding process, but in fact a good logo is an extension of a defined identity for a venture in the same way that a flag or national anthem may represent a country. A well designed brand personality can be seen in everything from customer service to the actual products a company may offer. Another misconception about brands is that they should reflect a quality; and that may be true in a brand that’s about quality (think of a Chanel logo which communicates the idea of luxury) but on the other hand if a local dollar store even has a designed logo that may in fact work against the goals of their brand as they may seem overpriced. Like an artist finding his or her voice the goal of a branding process should be to always frame in a concise way what makes your endeavour unique; and then apply that message to each medium. Michael Pinto – Creative Director, Very Memorable, Inc
Successful branding is what you do, not what you say or show. Successful branding requires your delivering consistently positive experiences for your constituents. It comes from keeping your promises to them, from earning their trust that your brand will do its best at every point of contact to deliver on what they want and expect from you. This trust leads to their choosing your brand again. Successful brands never take their constituents for granted. They never forget that most important to constituents are what’s in it for them, that constituents are distracted, and you must earn their attention. (Constituents include, depending on your product or service: customers, consumers, suppliers, employees, partners, allies, investors, funders, donors, analysts, critics, unions, regulators, the media, voters, etc.) The logo and theme line are not the brand. The logo symbolizes the brand. The theme line, if it’s any good, uniquely and memorably expresses the brand promise. (Most theme lines fail to do that.) Jim Siegel – HealthCare Chaplaincy Network (HCCN)
“A brand is essentially a container for a customer’s complete experience with the product or company.” Sergio Zyman, Author of The End of Advertising As We Know It
A brand is the essence of one’s own unique story. This is as true for personal branding as it is for business branding. The key, though, is reaching down and pulling out the authentic, unique “you”. Otherwise, your brand will just be a facade. The power of a strong logo in brand identity is that a simple visual can instantaneously communicate a brand and what it is about. Some large brands are able to do this by symbol only, without words, that is the Holy Grail that brands dream about. This seems to represent the very essence of communication at its most primitive roots. Few can pull it off. Logos are vitally important, but are just one component of what creates a strong brand. Logos should support the broader brand strategy that supports an even bigger brand story. Paul Biedermann – re:DESIGN
Branding is the art of aligning what you want people to think about your company with what people actually do think about your company. And vice-versa. Jay Baer – Why Smart Marketing Is about Help & Author Amber Naslund of The Now Revolution
It took us three years to build the NeXT computer. If we’d given customers what they said they wanted, we’d have built a computer they’d have been happy with a year after we spoke to them – not something they’d want now.” Steve Jobs
All these definitions of what branding is take a unique perspective on describing the word brand. One thing they all have in common is that you must create something that is memorable experience, something that the consumer, of your product or service, can resonate with long after the product or service is no longer in use.
What do you think? How would you define branding?
Feel free to share your thoughts and opinions in the comment section. I look forward to reading them and getting a dialogue flowing.