October 04th 2014

Brand definition – our take on it anyway!

Definitions for brand vary greatly, a brand might refer to the organisation such as ‘Nestle’ or ‘Virgin’, while at the same time it can refer to the individual products and services. In the mentioned examples that could be ‘Fruit Pastilles’ or ‘Fab’, ‘Virgin Money’ or ‘Virgin Atlantic’.

Design Council definition

According to the Design Council the ‘simplest answer’ is that ‘a brand is a set of associations that a person (or group) of people makes with a company, product, service, individual or organisation.’ These associations maybe intentional, that is to say that the organisation has actively marketed and promoted the values of the corporate identity or it maybe that the person has formulated their own views through, for example, direct experience of the brand or via public media, a bad review in the press could influence the brand image in the consumers mind.

In an environment where the consumer is confronted by what seems to be limitless choice, organisations look for ways to emotionally connect with their target markets with the aim of creating long-term relationships and therefore repeat purchase, or engagement. A brand needs to be strong and stand out in what is a densely populated market. How a brand is perceived affects its success, regardless of whether it is a start-up, non-profit or a product. In this respect brands serve various different functions both customer side and business side.

A customer definition

From the perspective of the customer:

  • Navigation - brands help customers choose from a bewildering array of choices.
  • Reassurance - brands communicate intrinsic qualities of the product or service and reassure the customer that they have made the right choice.
  • Engagement - brands use distinct imagery, language and associations to encourage customers to identify with the brand.

Alina Wheeler, 2009

Ultimately a brand exists in the minds of individuals as a result from sets of associations and perceptions, given that, branding is the attempt to generate and influence those associations to help the organisation achieve its goals. Organisations benefit in creating a brand that presents the company as distinctive, trustworthy, forward thinking or whichever attributes the organisation considers appropriate to themselves and their audience.

Business definition

From the perspective of the business organisation:

  • Brand is a design, marketing, communication and human resources tool.
  • It should influence every part of the organisation and every audience of the organisation all the time.
  • It is a co-ordinating resource because it makes the organisation’s activities coherent.
  • It makes the strategy of the organisation visible and palpable for all audiences to see.

Wally Olins, 2008

Brand can be affected by external influences so absolute control is never possible but through the correct use of marketing and design positive associations can be generated that will really benefit the organisation.

In different industry sectors the audiences, competitors and how a brand can be delivered may be different but the basic principles of being clear about what you, as an organisation stand for, always apply. Branding is a process used to build awareness and extend customer loyalty. It requires top management to drive brand values through the organisation and a readiness to invest in the future. A desire to lead, build competitive advantage to give employees the best tools to leverage the brand and reach customers.

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