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What IS a Brand?

There’s no shortage of branding definitions or descriptions about the importance of branding. And there are plenty of practitioners who would be more than happy to share their ideas. What I’ve discovered in my years of branding consulting work is that, regardless of your personal favorite branding definition, any of these descriptions can work depending on the context, situation, or what step in the branding process you find yourself. So take them in…and discover what branding is all about.


“A brand is a proper noun that can be used in the place of a common word. ‘What’s a ______?’”
Al Reis


“A brand is a singular idea or concept that you own inside the mind of a prospect.”
Al Reis


“The brand is nothing more than an ongoing relationship in which a customer exchanges financial value with the marketing organization [your business] for the use of the benefits the brand provides.”


“Brands are things marketing organizations [that’s your business] use to try and make more money. Brands are investments for sure. But they need to pay some returns to the owners. Creating nifty, complex, complicated advertising concepts generally doesn’t make any money for anyone other than the babbler.”
Don and Heidi Schultz, Brand Babble


“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.”


“[Branding] is a practice…that has always existed above and beyond all other business strategies. It is an organizing principle so broad yet so defining that it can shape and direct just about everything a company does, and, most important, how it does it.”
Scott Bedbury, A New Brand World


“A brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service, or company.”
Marty Neumeier


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


“At its most fundamental level, branding is driven by the human need to distinguish one thing from another.”
DK Holland


Branding is pre-selling.
Various attributions


Your brand is the truth about you, well told.


“Branding is simply a more efficient way to sell things.”
Al Reis


“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.Branding is the process of building a positive collection of perceptions in your customer’s mind.”
Bill Chiaravalle and Barbara Findlay Schenk


“For a brand to be successful it must first differentiate itself from the competition in the minds of consumers and this difference must be relevant. Most important, however, whatever it is that makes it different or relevant must be simple to understand—to both the people inside the brand organization and the people outside.”
Allen P. Adamson


“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


“Brands are a shortcut for people. They are known quantities so people don’t have to go through an assessment every time they select something.”
Kevin A. Clark


“A brand is a promise wrapped in an experience—a consistent promise wrapped in a consistent experience.”
Charlie Hughes and William Jeanes


“Branding isn’t about ‘getting your name out’ in the marketplace…Branding is about getting an individual customer to say, ‘I want it!’”
Steve Yastrow


“A brand is a unique and identifiable symbol, association, name or trademark which serves to differentiate competing products or services. Both a physical and emotional trigger to create a relationship between consumers and the product/service.”


“Simply put, a brand is a promise. By identifying and authenticating a product or service it delivers a pledge of satisfaction and quality.”
Walter Landor


“A brand is something that lives in your head. It’s 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.”
Allen P. Adamson


“A set of assets (or liabilities) linked to a brand's name and symbol that adds to (or subtracts from) the value provided by a product or service…”
David Aaker


“Branding is the creation, development and maintenance of a mutually-valuable relationship with a strategically selected group of customers, through the medium of a fresh and compelling elaborated proposition that is delivered consistently over time by an artificial personality.”
Mud Valley


“A brand is an identifiable entity that makes specific promises of value.”
Dave Dolak


“Brands are avenues of value innovation in a creative engagement between companies and their customers.”
Tenaya Group


“Developing and consistently communicating a group of positive characteristics and associations that are anchored to an established emotional truism.”
Roy H. Williams, Secret Formulas of the Wizard of Ads


“Branding is simply attaching something to your name. A brand is the sum total of all the mental associations, good and bad, that are triggered by a name.”
Roy H. Williams, Magical Worlds of the Wizard of Ads


“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, Micro Branding


“[Prediction of what to expect] x [emotional power of that expectation] = a brand.”
Seth Godin


“A brand is nothing but an expression of the consumer’s loyalty and trust.”
Phil Dusenberry, One Great Insight is Worth a Thousand Good Ideas


“In the public’s eye, a brand is a warranty. It is a promise that the service carrying that brand will live up to its name, and perform.”
Harry Beckwith, Selling the Invisible


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


“Your brand works in two directions: It works in the way we typically think, as attracting buyers with the brand’s implicit promise of quality. But the brand also works at the level of the second key pool of prospects: prospective employees. Because you are more than your brand; you are the people who represent it, manage it, and carry out its promises, and the more compelling your brand, the more easily you can recruit that exceptional talent you need to continue to deliver exceptional results.”
Harry Beckwith, The Invisible Touch


“Simply stated, a brand is a recognizable person, place, or thing. Our job as marketers is to create brands that are separate and distinct from similar products or services offered by competitors. It’s all about differentiation.”
Steve Cone, Steal These Ideas!


“If you want to build a successful brand, you have to understand divergence. You have to look for opportunities to create new categories by divergence of existing categories. And then you have to become the first brand in this emerging new category.”
Al & Laura Ries, The Origin of Brands


“A Killer Brand exists when an entity derives a disproportionate amount of success in its category because of a compelling and differentiated expectation that comes to be associated with its name.”
Frank Lane, Killer Brands


“Brand refers to the set of characteristics that arise in a customer’s mind when that person hears your name or sees your logo.”
Bill Chiaravalle, Branding for Dummies


“Branding simply involves developing and consistently communicating a group of positive characteristics that consumers can identify with and relate to your name.”
Barbara Findlay Schenck, Small Business Marketing for Dummies


“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, The End of Advertising As We Know It


"Branding is a methodical influence on the creation of beliefs in the consumer's mind. These beliefs pertain to a brand's 'instrumentality,' meaning the degree to which it enables consumers to achieve, do, or be what they want."
Dan Herman, Outsmart the MBA Clones

The tools and techniques available on this site are like those used by big companies and they’ll allow YOU take control of the branding process and get BETTER RESULTS from your marketing and communications. Why is branding important? Branding creates a preference for your products or services so you can increase revenues for your business.

Every business—large or small—can and should benefit from branding’s best practices, but they often don’t take advantage of even the basic branding toolbox because the theories, the language, and the principles seem out of reach. And the cost to retain a branding expert or brand strategy agency can be sky-high.

We can help: we bring branding from the boardroom to the lunchroom — and show YOU how to do it yourself. That’s what affordable branding is all about. After all, no one knows your brand better than you.

Because the truth is, branding is for ALL businesses, large or small, business-to-consumer or business-to-business. Without a solid and established brand strategy—a strategy that resonates throughout your company and radiates out to your customers and prospects—your marketing and communications efforts will fail.

We can help you and your business discover its true brand, determine the ideal way in which customers and prospects perceive your business, and show you how your brand can add value to your company, your staff, and your customers. All without breaking the bank.

Use the Do-it-Yourself (DIY) Branding advice available on this site or check out our Branding Resources here, or contact us for a free brand assessment…today.

What is your unique brand promise? We can help you discover the truth about you...well told.

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