A definition of brand

I’ll confess to a deep cynical streak about certain things. One of those things is business writing, especially writing about marketing and brand. Most of this “content” seems designed by its “contributors” to do nothing more than create “engagement” for the web behemoths publishing it to attract eyeballs to pay the bills. What’s worse, this word spew often serves to confuse more than illuminate.

A prime example of this is kind of writing is writing about brand. With rare exceptions like Marty Neumeier’s books, most brand writing consists of some a combination of anecdotes about ranchers, cattle, Nike sneakers, and Tide laundry detergent, with some version of the phrase “your brand is what your customers say it is” thrown in for good measure. It’s not that this writing is wrong, per se, just that it ends up obfuscating what I believe is actually a simple (even primal) concept.

Here’s how I define brand: a brand is how a person feels about a thing. Defined this way, a few things become clear.

  • First, we all instinctively understand brand, because all of us (with the possible exception of one Dr. Sacks’ patients) feel about things.
  • Second, almost everything has a brand. Barack Obama has a brand; golden retrievers have a brand; the park bench has a brand; your grandmother has a brand; 7th grade has a brand; because you feel something about all of those things (although in the case of some things like the park bench, it may amount to little or nothing).
  • Third, every thing has as many brands as there are people to feel something about it. My brand for golden retrievers is not exactly the same as your brand (although in all likelihood there’s a lot of similarity between our two golden retriever brands, unless you’re some kind of monster).

Now, saying that brand is a simple concept and that we all understand it instinctively, is not to say that we all are conscious of it and its effects on the world around us. But that can be gained with a change your perspective and the courage to take the red pill.

Principal, Bez Brand