Our recent discussions on branding (here and here) brought up an important topic – what is a brand? Sometimes business owners think a brand is just a logo or a marketing message, but I think it’s much more:
- Visual – A brand usually has a visual representation in terms of a logo or graphic that is easily recognizable. Brands can also be identified by a spokesperson or icon (for example, the energizer bunny). Sometimes there are also visual representations that have been created by customers instead of the company.
- Auditory – Many brands have a signature theme song or jingle (think rhapsody in blue for united airlines, or the Intel chimes) which can bring to mind the company when heard outside of advertisements.
- Verbal – Through marketing, sales, and customer service, a company creates verbal impressions of what the company stands for in various situations.
- Emotional – Brands evoke an emotional response in customers (hopefully good emotions), which are influenced by their interactions with the brand (advertising, purchasing, customer service, other customers, etc.).
- Communal – With the ease of communication available on the Internet, customers can easily share opinions, feelings, and experiences about your brand with or without your influence.
- Instinctive – Closely tied with emotional and communal influences, customers have instinctual feelings and opinions about your brand even before they’ve interacted with your company, formed through advertising and information from other customers.
- Evolutionary – Brands are constantly evolving through interaction and shared experiences of customers, non-customers and companies. A company can try to influence the evolution, but is no longer in complete control of the brand.
- Descriptive – By combining the various interactions with a brand, an overall impression of what the company stands for is shared among customers and non-customers. A brand is descriptive of what a company, product, and/or service stands for, in terms of all the elements above (visual, auditory, verbal, emotional, etc.).
What else does a brand mean? What does your brand mean to you? What do other brands mean? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.