Brand: A Definition

An internet search gave me lots of answers but typical were:

"A name, term, sign or design intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of their competitors"

American Marketing Association

"something that has actually created a certain amount of awareness, reputation and prominence in the marketplace"

Keller (2008)

There are two types of components of a brand: tangible and intangible.

Tangible components are stuff that you might expect:

  • The product or the service itself.
  • Your brand name.
  • Your brand logo.
  • The description of benefits that exist when they buy from you, whether it be the power of the product or even a money-back guarantee, a low rate of interest on payments.

Intangible components that exist are:

  • The trust and reliability elements of buying from you and in the products themselves.
  • The psychological pay-off.
  • Added value.
  • Differentiation. The ability for you to be instantly recognisable, because no one confuses a MacBook for a Dell.


A brand is a cluster of functional and emotional values which promise not just a good product/service, but an overall experience. It's not just about what the brand sells, but how customers are spoken to, how engaged the social media team is, even how these products make you feel emotionally. It's about core values and what they stand for, much like when Nike showed their support for Colin Kaepernick, the NFL player who was fired for kneeling during the national anthem as a protest against racial crime.

Once that personality has been identified then many aspects of marketing become so much easier. From the choice of colours schemes to the wording of advertising. Understanding the personality and keeping the personality consistent within the marketing mix becomes the key to success.  When we discuss on this site the choice of promotional goods and the advice we give to clients, it is that personality that we at first look to identify and understand.

Product vs. Brand

A product is made in a factory. A brand is made through marketing efforts.

A product can be easily duplicated. A brand is unique, it is special.

A product can grow old and become outdated. A brand is timeless.

A product is generic, has a singular function. A brand has personality, is more than something that you hold in your hand.

What is Brand Equity?

Brand equity is the value of a brand. It is based on a few things:

  • Loyalty - do you have customers that return again and again?
  • Brand awareness - is your name that everyone recognises immediately? Are you your industry's equivalent of Coca Cola?
  • Perceived quality - are you a brand that consistently puts out the best quality items, the best service possible?
  • Strong brand associations - are you linked with any other brand that makes you a powerful force?
  • Other assets - are any patents registered with your organisation? Is there anything else that you think contributes to your brand.

A successful brand does not just just operate externally, but offers support internally for management and other employees. A brand's value is only as good as how the employees value the brand.

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Keller, L.K. (2008) Strategic Brand Management: Building, measuring and managing brand equity, 3rd Edition, Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice-Hall