Defining what a brand is: why is it so hard?

“A brand is not a logo. A brand is not an identity. A brand is not a product. A brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service, or organization,” says Marty Neumeier, one of the giants in the branding community.


But what is exactly a brand? Is it the logo or the design? Is it the product or the packaging? The truer meaning of a brand can be fuzzy if not clearly defined.

It seems that even marketing and branding peeps seem to suffer with coming up with a clear definition for this lingo. Seeking the help of a dictionary would make things even worse.

In earlier times, the term brand would refer to the names and marks producers would place on their products.



For example, during the late 1880s where packaged goods were on the rise, Coca-Cola was one of the newborns. The brand name Coca-Cola was a label used to give the company an edge in an increasingly competitive market of generic sodas. However, as branding evolved, it was realized there was more to companies than their non-generic names.



To remove all the fluff and keep things simple: a brand is the personality of the company. Consider it the company’s breathing persona that runs on emotion-infused diesel. And it definitely should have independent attributes that make it easier to be easily recognized and well-received:

· What is its name? (logo)

· What does it wear? (design)

· How does it communicate? (positioning)

· What are its core values and what does it stand for? (brand promise)

· Who does it associate with? (target market)

· Is it well known? (brand awareness)


This is why Nike associates its sports apparel with star athletes, hoping that customers will transfer their emotional attachment from these athletes to the product itself. It was never the shoe's features alone that sold the shoe, trust us on that one.



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