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Defining What a Brand is

13 January 20

As branding has evolved, brands have become more subjective - more about perception and accumulated meaning. Our conception of what a brand is has become more and more complicated, difficult to define, and hard to pin down with a single definition.

Defining Brand as Undefinable?

So, why is defining what a brand is so difficult? What insights can we gather from this difficulty?

1. Brands mean different things to different people at different times.

A single brand means something unique to each person – be it a current consumer, potential consumer, employee, recruit, or just within the world at large. Brands are dynamic. They can play a different role depending on who they interact with and when. Some people connect with certain aspects of a brand, while others connect meaningfully with another.

2. Brands are amorphous. 

At Milestone, we often think of brands as nebulous and infinite. A brand can be the sum of brand experiences or interactions, but those experiences and interactions have infinite possibilities. Every touchpoint matters. Each moment counts. Although we work on creating structure for brands in the form of brand architecture, that architecture always accommodates for growth and change – so the brand can develop, expand, respond, and shift with the times.

3. Brands are about feelings, and feelings are complicated.

When you ask people why they love certain brands, it’s often hard for them to pin down. They might provide a list of rational and logical reasons, but in the end, it often comes down to a feeling. Successful brands today are always emotionally infused. They hold great emotional meaning for people and that’s what makes that brand loved and respected.

4. Highly recognizable, well-known brands are often used to define what a brand is.

More often than not, the question of defining what a brand is is answered with a list of popular, well-known, established brands. Consider all types of brands – big and small, global and local, new and old.. There’s a lot to learn from all the brands we interact with every day. Each brand is meaningful because of something different, and this is often what differentiates a brand and makes it powerful to the people who matter to it.

5. Defining the impact a brand can have is often easier than defining what a brand is.

When we talk about defining what a brand is, we often talk about what makes a brand impactful for a business: stronger ROI, an aligned leadership, a more engaged workplace, etc. And when we discuss impact – whether it’s from a brand refresh, a new positioning, a great campaign, or just further brand engagement – that’s where we see the brand really working.

Even though it’s a difficult exercise, establishing a shared understanding about how you define your brand and what it means to your business can help guide both your brand and business forward. With alignment around what makes your brand unique, you can build a marketing strategy around it and allow your brand to reach its full potential.

So, how would you define what a brand is? As the leading brand consultant in Indonesia,  Talk to us and we might try to define your brand!