Looking for a Good Brand Definition?
Everyone Has a Point of View
Every marketing agency, branding firm, and industry expert has its own brand definition. It’s not surprising, then, that there’s confusion. There’s more agreement on what a brand is not. It’s not a name, logo, product, service, slogan, or campaign. So why is there so much confusion? It’s because brands are multi-dimensional and dynamic. And it is also a matter of perspective.
David Aaker, Professor at the University of California Berkeley, Haas School of Business defines brand as “a set of expectations, memories, stories, and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another”.
Interbrand, on the other hand, defines brand as “the sum of all expressions by which an entity (person, organization, company, business unit, city, nation, etc.) intends to be recognized“.
The American Marketing Association’s brand definition is “a name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers“
A Different Perspective of Brand
A Brand Is . . .
1. The Perceptions You Own
Perceptions are the impressions created as a result of certain characteristics that make the brand unique. Brands have personalities that give them human attributes. This can make them more easily relatable. Brands have a voice that reflects a tone through how they communicate. And brands engage through experiences that make them more memorable. However, perceptions have many other facets.
FutureBrand conducts an annual assessment of the top 100 global companies measuring 18 different dimensions of perceptual strength (FutureBrand Index 2020). In 2020 Apple, Samsung and Nike were in the top 10. While Wells Fargo, Exxon Mobil, and Verizon were in the bottom 10.
2. The Commitment You Make
Every brand makes a promise that it will deliver something of value. It is this commitment it makes to fulfill an expectation. Each met commitment reinforces the perceptions associated with the brand. While unfulfilled promises quickly erode confidence. Every promise kept directly translates to greater trust. And more trust leads to long-term loyalty.
Morning Consult, in its 2021 Report on Why Brand Trust Matters Today lists Google, Netflix, and Microsoft as the most trusted.
3. The Reputation You’ve Built
There is nothing more valuable than a reputation that has earned a loyal following. Reputation is about what the brand has been, what it has achieved, its legacy, accountability, cultural contribution, and social responsibility.
Every year the RepTrak Company conducts an in-depth study on reputation management, issues, and success factors. In its 2021 Global RepTrak 100 study, it ranked Lego, Rolex, and Walt Disney Company in the top 10. Amazon, Unilever, and SC Johnson were in the bottom 10.
4. The Benefit You Provide
Brands must provide benefits that will be valued by their customers. They are an extension and reflection of the value proposition. Benefits can be tangible in the form of a product or service. Or they can be intangible through the fulfillment of an emotional need. But in the most basic terms, the benefit is what meets a need or want in the market. In meeting and exceeding, customer needs brands create a relationship that extends beyond basic fulfillment. Morning Consult has translated that into a survey of most loved brands in America.
In Morning Consult’s Most Loved Brands 2020 Report they highlight some of the year’s biggest gainers, zoom, Spacex, TikTok, Instacart, and Headspace.
5. The Distinction You’ve Established
To be the brand of choice it needs to be different from any other brand alternative. Distinction is essentially a competitive advantage. It is what the product or service provides that is uniquely different from any other choice? Distinction is also a reinforcement of the value proposition. Distinctive brands are also brands that are considered “Breakthrough brands” as defined by Interbrand. These are brands that are so distinctive that they are creating or redefining a category.
Interbrand’s Breakthrough Brands 2020 Report highlights such companies as Chime (on-line banking), Impossible (Vegetarian meat alternative), and Loop (eco-friendly packaged goods) as examples of breakthrough brands.
6. What You Stand For
Brands have to stand for something. It is one of the most important facets of a brand. Standing for something is what defines the purpose and shared values most relevant to key target audience segments. It is what makes the strongest emotional connection. And it is the emotional connection that ensures that it is both meaningful and relevant on a personal level. MBLM has described this connection as “Brand Intimacy”.
MBLM in its Brand Intimacy 2020 Study ranked Amazon, BMW, and Walmart in the top 10.
But Wait, There’s More
Consider these facets of a brand definition as the foundational building blocks of what constitutes a brand. There are many other attributes of course. Although a name and logo, by themselves, don’t define a brand, they drive brand recognition. An advertising campaign builds awareness. An experience lends to memorability. The different facets of the brand make it truly special and unique. Jeff Bezos might have distilled it down to the most essential definition.
“Your Brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room.”
That’s how any great brand works.