What is a brand?

I was lucky enough to speak at the Expo West 2018 food and catering trade show this week. Three days and five speeches about ‘How to build a successful brand’. Surprisingly, my first challenge was to find a decent definition to describe ‘what is a brand’.

The definition of brand

Look to the Oxford English Dictionary and you will find: ‘to brand is to mark with a heated branding iron. The brand is also the identifying name of a company or its products’.

However, this is way behind the definition of branding that is relevant today. Indeed, the best definition that I could find is from Jeff Bezos (founder of Amazon) who defined brand as ‘what other people say about you when you are not in the room’.

This is more accurate, in relation to what I perceive a brand to be. It is certainly way beyond the ‘symbol or icon’ that the Oxford English dictionary describes.

What is a brand?

Your brand is everything that your customer or client thinks when they think of your business. It’s your culture, your business personality, your pricing model, your reputation, your sales process and your customers’ last experience of your products. It can be factual; it can be emotional. The important thing is that your brand exists only in the minds of your consumers.

Stop and think about this. When thinking in these terms, it is clear that your brand cannot be, and should not be, the responsibility of your marketing department alone. Your brand is the domain of your business owner, your staff, your suppliers and your channels of distribution. Make sure you choose these carefully.

So before you think about your marketing, first decide what your brand stands for and why. It certainly isn’t just to make money (or I hope not). Think deeper…  why does your brand matter to your customers? What are you adding to make their lives better?

If you aren’t clear about this, then your marketing efforts are likely to be wasted.

So, what is your brand? It is everything that your business is and does.

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