Don’t be too hasty in attempting to answer this question; take a moment and carefully consider your understanding of the word “brand” and what it means in the world. You might find it quite challenging to conjure up a precise definition that you can articulate succinctly—you’re not alone.
Many of us probably believe that we have a sound understanding of branding; what a brand is and how it functions or should function. We live in a society that places much emphasis on branding and encourages individuals (especially celebrities) to think of themselves as brands and carry themselves accordingly so as to get more out of their industries; consequently, we have people declaring and speaking of themselves as brands, with little understanding of what it actually means to be a brand and what it takes to build a compelling brand.
“Brand” has become one of those loosely and widely used words that are possibly not comprehended fully or fittingly. So, to avoid further confusion and misconception, let’s try to gain better insight into what a brand is and its purpose within a business.
People often use the terms ‘brand’ and ‘logo’ interchangeably, not knowing that “your brand is not your logo”. A brand is bigger than a logo which, in reality, is a small and easy component that feeds into your brand. A brand takes on a bigger stage; it cannot be reduced to a mere name, logo or even a tagline; it’s a concept that expresses what a company stands for and sets the tone for how clients will engage with it. A brand builds relationships and creates a loyal community that will buy into it; a brand is a promise on a value that you will deliver. A brand inspires and empowers consumers; so when we talk of a brand, we are alluding to the personality of the business which, by extension, makes it more appealing and meaningful to its customers.
Let’s, for a second, consider Beyoncé as a simple illustration of the impact of brand personality; it’s one thing liking how Beyoncé adorns her body, and it’s another thing being a supporter of her personality… Fans praise her work ethic and believe that it is the reason behind her success and staying power in the industry. More than that, fans love how free she is because freedom is the key to her personality—she even has a song titled ‘Freedom’. Considering the influence that she has and the global admiration she has garnered over the years, who would be so bold as to deny Beyoncé’s brand? So, in the same way, customers need to identify with and relate to the personality of a brand for it to gain and maintain their support and loyalty.
A brand should aim to connect below the surface level with its customers in order to create lasting relationships; this is important because in a world of plenty options, social media and quick fixes; you want to create a brand that will stay and keep its customers too. It goes without saying that it is essential for a business to invest in building a brand that will not stagnate but one that will grow and evolve without losing itself or compromising its personality.
“Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room” – Jeff Bezos
So, what are people saying about your brand? Are they saying anything at all? Because we know for sure that the millions of fans who are besotted with Beyoncé’s brand are constantly raving about it, losing their voices and literally shedding tears as a token of their love! What about yours? Your brand needs you to go beyond your logo and push further into spaces where people will have no other choice but to breathe in its core values and personality.
What you also need to understand about a brand is that it is “an accumulation of emotional and functional associations.” What emotion do you want to evoke in your (potential) customers? What do you want them to feel when they think about your brand? Beyoncé’s brand empowers and evokes a feeling of freedom. What promise is your brand making and will it perform and meet customer’s expectations? These are important questions that need answers because what your brand is able to achieve conditions the expectations of a customer regarding your product. A strong brand is set apart in the marketplace through the information it is able to express about the business. Consider leading brands such as Coca Cola, Toyota, Apple etc.
At this stage, you might be able to respond to the question posed at the beginning of this article. What is your understanding of a brand? Are you getting there? Here’s a final thought for us to reflect on: “A brand is an overall experience of a customer that distinguishes an organisation or product from its rivals in the eyes of the customer.”
5 Steps to Understanding Your Brand’s DNA
Understanding Brand – What is a Brand?
Moore, P. (2019). Your Brand is NOT Your Logo – 5 Reasons You Need a Brand Strategy and Architecture