What is a brand?

Some time ago a client asked me to put a presentation together that explained what a brand is, and why it is so important and valuable for a company. So, I decided I to start my presentation by defining what a brand is, and figured that between Duck Duck Go, Ask and Google I would quickly find a great definition. What I did not expect was that none of my searches would offer up a really compelling definition of what I believe a brand intrinsically stands for.

David Ogilvy, David Aaker, The American Marketing Association all had great definitions of what a brand is but none of them really captured the essence of what a brand is, to my mind. I was looking for something more compelling, romantic and effusive; not a laundry list.

David Ogilvy’s definition of a brand:

“The intangible sum of a product’s attributes: its name, packaging, and price, its history, its reputation, and the way it’s advertised.”

The American Marketing Association offered this definition:

a “name, term, sign, symbol, or design or a combination of them intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of competition.

My problem with the above and most of the other definitions I came across, was that all of them felt rather cold, functional and utilitarian; none captured that wonderfully important and intangible essence of what I believe to be the most important aspect of a brand – the emotional bond. Especially, in today’s hyper digital age with fragmentation of media, and marketing channels, as well as the myriad choices for consumers; I believe it has become even more critical to focus on this emotional core. So, instead of tearing my hair out I decided to pen my own definition:

A brand is the promise a company makes to its customers. And the unique emotional bond that customers form with the company, when this promise is consistently delivered at every interaction.©