What is a brand?

You may not realize it, but the term “brand” is one of the most used buzzwords in the English language. It seems that over the past 12 to 15 years everyone from small business owners to major conglomerates, celebrities, professional athletes, social media stars, and even your grandmother’s knitting club are talking about their brand.

The importance of branding now appears to be common knowledge, but do you know what a brand truly is? In an effort to provide clarity on this topic, I have defined what a brand is by breaking down a few factors that shape it.

Hopefully, this information will help educate aspiring entrepreneurs who are looking to establish a presence and also act as a refresher for those who have already made their mark.

What is a brand?
If you happen to do a Bing search (yes, I said Bing instead of Google. Just thought I’d go against the grain for a moment) for the phrase “What is a brand”, you will find hundreds of articles from authors, journalists, and bloggers providing their take on the term. With there being such an overwhelming amount of static on this topic, how do you know which explanation is actually correct? Well, one of the many online dictionaries defines the term brand as, “a set of marketing and communication methods that help to distinguish a company from competitors and create a lasting impression in the minds of customers.”

Taking this definition into consideration, several factors play a role in what equates a brand, but let’s break this down further. As mentioned in the definition, brands create “LASTING IMPRESSIONS”. Your brand’s lasting impressions create “MEMORIES”. A customer’s memory of their experience with your brand creates a “PERCEPTION”. Perception in return creates an “EXPECTATION”. And finally, the manner in which expectations are met or not met creates a “REPUTATION” for your brand.

So the answer to the question, “What is a brand?” is reputation. Whether a business or personal brand, your reputation is built by consistently delivering on the expectations of your customers with every interaction they have with you. Your brand can do either two things, open doors or close them, and your actions will decide which category suits you.

Now that you have a better understanding of the term brand, be mindful not to jump into the brand building process blindly. Take time to define. Remember, brands are not built overnight. Too often we see entrepreneurs attempting to build their brands without proper knowledge of their market, target audiences, and competitors. I compare blindly building a brand to a novice swimmer who after one lesson decides to swim the Panama Canal. It’s just not wise, and could possibly lead to the death of your business.

Take the process of defining and positioning your brand in the market seriously. You do not want to make the mistake of investing large sums of time and money into launching a business that misses the mark and underperforms for you and your audience. Remember that clarity leads to growth, equips you with the ability to meet the needs of your audience, and build the reputation required to succeed.