A brand is not a trendy style. It’s not a slick website. A brand is neither a cool business card nor is it a logo. It is an experience. It is trust. It is a manifestation of the relationship a company has with its customers.
The American Marketing Association defines a brand as a “name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s goods or services as distinct from those of other sellers.” While a ‘name, design, or symbol’ may play a visible role in helping to define a brand, it is not effectively a brand in itself.
Marty Neumeier, in his book ‘The Brand Gap’, has discussed the transition in the way brands are marketed and consumed, stating that within the modern globalized economy, most products, services and technologies can almost instantly be mimicked and duplicated. Because of this, people now base their buying decisions more on symbolic cues rather than features, benefits, and price. Differentiation has evolved from ‘what it is’ to ‘what it does’ to ‘how you’ll feel’ to ‘who you are.’ This being so, it is no longer effective to merely describe a product or service. Their needs to exist a creative identity with which to emotionally connect with customers.
A brand’s success relies heavily on its distinctiveness, relevance, memorability and depth. Just as Neumeier explains, this can be as simple as deciding what you are and conversely what you are not. A brand, product, or service will almost certainly fail by trying to appeal to everyone. In our global economy, it’s easier for a specialist with a smaller, more loyal customer base to deliver an authentic brand experience than a generalist competing for a larger group of more hesitant customers.
A sign of a successful brand is one that disguises its manifold complexities and appears smart, simple and authentic. Often much easier said than done, a brand is the uniting of logical business strategies with creative emotional relevance. In the simplest of terms, it is not a logo, but the connecting of good strategy with good creativity.
Check out Marty Neumeier’s book, The Brand Gap.