What is a Brand?

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The real answer might be a little different than we commonly think.

Just for the sake of ease of discussion here, let’s look at some common big brands: Apple, Amazon, Starbucks, Patagonia, Tom’s Shoes, and Nike.

If you have ever done business with one of these brands, why did you choose to purchase from them? How did the experience make you feel?

What is the Starbucks brand? Is it their logo? Is it their coffee? Is it their baristas? Is it their decor? Is it their colors?

You might see a brand as a name, logo, or design. Yet I believe a brand is much more than this.

A brand is multidimensional, but I believe it boils down to the fact that it is the personality of that business. Just as a human personality is multidimensional.

Every personality you interact with generates feelings. Every brand you interact with generates feelings.

When you interact with a person, you experience their personality. When you interact with a business, you experience its personality.

In business, we call this personality a brand.

In business, a brand is everything that you experience. It’s how that business makes you feel when you’re engaging with it. Whether you’re using a product, a service, talking with a customer service representative, reading their website or speaking with a sales representative you are experiencing their brand.

Here are a few things that make up a business’s brand.

A promise:

A brand promise is what your business ultimately promises to deliver to your customers. What you promise people and what you actually deliver goes a long way in determining how people will feel about your brand.

Visual identity:

Your visual identity is defined by the colors, graphics, photos, fonts, design, and logo that represent your business. It’s everything people see when interacting with your business.

Sight is one of the primary human senses. As you might imagine, how people see your company goes a long way in determining how they will feel about your company.

Message:

The message or story that you tell will influence people. It’s the words they read. It’s the tone you use. How you choose to communicate will affect how people experience your brand.

Employees:

Customer interactions with employees is a crucial part of your brand experience. It’s important that employees understand the essence of your brand. How they talk, how they look, and how they interact with each customer makes a statement about your brand.

Belonging:

A brand can indicate something to belong to because it stands for something. Often people that purchase items from the same brand will have the same beliefs and perspectives. At least when it comes to the issues that that brand stands for.

For owners of Harley-Davidson’s, there’s a sense of belonging to a tribe. They hold similar beliefs and values in life. And they can bond over the Harley Davidson brand. They can bond because Harley-Davidson has similar values and beliefs as they do. Thus it offers a collective meaning that each owner understands.

Feeling:

Often there’s a feeling you get from a certain product. When you put on a pair of Nike running shoes (or your favorite brand) how does it make you feel? Do you feel just a little more athletic? Do you feel just a little more healthy?

After purchasing a home alarm system you likely feel safer and more secure. It brings peace of mind that you didn’t have before purchasing that product.

Your brand feeling can be closely related to your brand promise. For example, your brand promise might be peace of mind. A home security system delivers on the promise of peace of mind because you feel safer.

Conclusion:

Going back to Starbucks…their brand is defined by the total experience. Their logo, baristas, decor, coffee, and colors are all part of what defines their brand.

A brand is a business’s personality. Everything that a customer experiences and how they feel after interacting with the business is what defines the company’s brand.

How do people experience your business, your brand?

Trevor Wilson

Trevor Wilson

Trevor is a love-focused branding specialist helping our team constantly fine-tune our obsessions. He’s a passionate learner and teacher, distilling over 100 industry-related books a year into digestible bits that make Smitten’s client projects more powerful every day.

Want to discuss? We're all ears.

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About This Little Agency: Back in 2007, in a little town on the southern border of Washington State, Trevor and Kama Wilson braved the naysayers saying it was absurd to try to earn their full-time income together online. Despite criticism and even moving into a single car garage for awhile so they could pursue their dream, they worked unearthly hours, studied endlessly, made costly mistakes, and figured out how to make their entire income online. After successfully running 700 websites (and living entirely and well off the profits), they opened Smitten (formerly Peppermint) to use their inborn, honed obsessions for alluring design, captivating content and personable branding to help other business owners get more ❤ too. 

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