What is a brand?


/brand/ n: a particular product or a characteristic that serves to identify a particular product.

According to the dictionary definition anyway. However, there is much more to a brand than this. A brand exists in the mind of the consumer – it is the culmination of the experiences and beliefs a consumer has that causes them to respond in a particular way to the product, price or communications.

For any company, small or large, it is important to remember that building a brand is not as simple as adding a logo or coming up with a funky name. You need to define what your company stands for, develop this throughout the business and evaluate its success. Commonly a brand is defined on different levels:

Core values: this defines what your brand stands for, its belief system and a way of working.

Benefits: these are both the emotional and functional benefits for consumers. For example, if I buy a Chanel handbag the functional benefit is a well-made handbag that I can use day to day, the emotional benefit however, is that I feel stylish.

Personality: whatever your brand personality is, it is how the brand should be presented at every point of communication – whether that be the website or customer service centre.

Positioning: this is how the brand compares to competitors. Going back to the Chanel example – my Chanel bag makes me more stylish than if I was carrying a Primark one.

Once a brand is out in the public eye, it is up to consumers to make their own assumptions about it based on each individual experience. When done properly, the rewards are clear – brand equity creates value above and beyond the actual output value of a company.

But if you don’t deliver on your brand values, you could get into hot water. A prime example is the rebranding exercise the part of the Royal Mail undertook over a decade ago to change its name to Consignia. A backlash ensued, forcing it to go back on the name change. The real problem was in the customer service, not the name and logo.

In Aristotle’s words: the whole is greater than the sum of all parts. If you’re a small business embarking on a branding exercise, before doing so, think about what you want your company or product to stand for and make sure this is mirrored throughout every interaction with customers. Know your values, train your staff and stay true to what you mean. If you don’t, you won’t be fooling anyone.


Posted by the Secret Businessman