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The Dictionary of Brand defines brand as “ A person’s perception of a product, service, experience, or organization.”
David Ogilvy, the “Father of Advertising,” defined brand as “the intangible sum of a product’s attributes.” 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.
Branding is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.- Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com
So, why is defining what a brand is so difficult? What insights can we gather from this difficulty? 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. And often times, a person’s relationship with a brand can really develop – increasing trust, loyalty, meaning, and engagement. Smart and successful brands work on reaching all the different audiences who matter to their business and aim to further their brand relationships with each individual.
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. How does that brand really make them feel? And why do they come back for more of that feeling? Why does that feeling mean something to them? Successful brands today are always emotionally infused. They hold great emotional meaning for people and that’s what makes that brand loved and respected.
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.