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“Brand” in a Nutshell

Having been a marketer for the past – ok, I’ll admit it – quarter century, I’ve been involved with market research, new product development, the marketing of consumer products, communication of ideas and concepts, and have been asked one question over and over and over again both by clients and colleagues alike. If you read the title, it's no surprise that the question is: “What exactly is a Brand?” 

Leaf through any marketing textbook and you’ll understand why so many are confused by what a brand really is. You’ll find definitions that include words such as “perceptions…images… tag line… impressions…” and so on. Even the most creative of creative directors will get misty-eyed when they describe the all-powerful “brand”, usually in a somewhat circuitous manner.

Books have been written, classes have been taught at all levels, and yet, a basic, understandable definition of Brand remains elusive… If you boil all of the brand discussions, all of the definitions, all of the gesticulating and eye-numbing text, the definition of a brand is really quite simple:

A brand is the emotional response an individual experiences when a product or service name is viewed or mentioned.

Pretty straightforward. An example: How do you feel when someone mentions “Coke”? Do you pleasantly remember the tingling of carbonation on your tongue? Do you imagine the cool cola taste trickling down your throat? Do you relish snapping the tab and can you almost hear the bubbling as you pour it over ice? Is the feeling positive? Fun?

That’s the brand in its most pure sense. Of course if it was really that easy, every Tom, Dick, or Harry would think they were brand experts. You know who I mean…  

The critical take-away is that Brand is emotion. And your clients make emotional decisions when purchasing an item or service. A favorable brand experience will favorably impact their action. But, how a brand is positioned is also critical. How the brand interacts with the pricing, promotion, distribution and other elements is important.

In a nutshell, it really is all about the brand. How do you feel when you think of your favorite brand?

(C) Alder & Associates

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