What is a brand?

Published by Colin Finkle on

Definition of Brand

The definition of a brand means different things to different people. For the purposes this blog, we will define a brand as:

The aggregate total of perceptions the customers and potential customers have towards an individual or organization and its offerings based on prior experience and media.

That is a lot to process. Don’t worry, we will break it down But what does it mean to your business? It means your brand is in the mind of your customers. You can have the fanciest logo, the best packaging, and the sexiest product design, it doesn’t mean you have a strong brand unless it translates into the minds of your customers.

Let’s break it down:

  • The aggregate total: The sum of all feeling of people affected by the brand.
  • of perceptions: The thoughts and feelings people have before using or re-using the product or service. These can be negative or positive.
  • the customers and potential customers have: People who do or could actually transact with the company.
  • towards an individual or organization and its offerings: A company / product / product line / service.
  • based on prior experience and media: The brand is the result of the experiences with the products / services, marketing material, news and other people, i.e. word of mouth.

Let’s look at what that does and doesn’t mean. Brand not mean a logo or a companies graphics; This is referred to as “branding” and not the “brand.” A brand can mean the name and products of a company, e.g. “Tide,” “Apple,” “Oprah,” or “The DMV” as the words carry preconceptions with customers. Everything has a reputation, and reputation and brand can almost be used interchangeably, but brand is reserved for things that have something to sell or transact.

Brands are typically companies but can be products (Big Mac), services (20 Minute Oil Change), sales (BOGO), people (Justin Bieber), political organizations (The Democrats), governmental agencies (The IRS), and charities (The Cancer Society). If the reputation of something can potentially affect the way someone transacts, then it is a brand.

How Other Experts Define Brand.

Triangle with quotation marks inside

Here are the definitions of the word brand from some branding luminaries. To read more, visit Heidi Cohen‘s full list.

“A set of assets (or liabilities) linked to a brand’s name and symbol that adds to (or subtracts from) the value provided by a product or service…”
David Aaker, author: Building Strong Brands, Aaker on Branding

“A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another. If the consumer (whether it’s a business, a buyer, a voter or a donor) doesn’t pay a premium, make a selection or spread the word, then no brand value exists for that consumer.”
Seth Godin, author: Linchpin

“Branding is the art of aligning what you want people to think about your company with what people actually do think about your company. And vice-versa.”
Jay Baer, author: The Now Revolution

“Branding is the sub-total of all the “experiences” your customers have with your business.”
Bryan Eisenberg, author: Waiting for Your Cat to Bark

“Brand is the sum total of how someone perceives a particular organization. Branding is about shaping that perception.”
Ashley Friedlein, president: Econsultancy

“A brand is how you or your company is perceived in the eyes of your customers. Good brands can create a lasting mental footprint in the customer’s mind.”
Alexander Mimran, CEO: Minbox. (From our interview.)

Note: links in this article have Amazon associate codes. Brand Marketing Blog makes a small commission only when you purchase the products from them with the link. It does not increase the price for you, and it allows us to keep this content free.

Colin Finkle

Colin Finkle is a brand marketer and designer with ten years of experience helping Fortune 500 companies tell their story at retail. You can see his work at finkle.ca


Is James Bond / 007 a brand? | Brand Marketing Blog · December 14, 2015 at 10:32 pm

[…] is a good opportunity to test out our definition of a brand which we discussed before. The definition […]

Brand relationship strategies | Brand Marketing Blog · July 29, 2016 at 12:38 pm

[…] you enjoyed this, check out our article on the definition of brand with definition from David Aaker, and many other marketing […]

Changing Business Models with a Brand | Brand Marketing Blog · August 26, 2016 at 1:03 pm

[…] (unless they license a brand) where established companies just have to tweak their brand. But brands live in the minds of their potential customers, and they can be hard and sometimes impossible to change. Sometimes mental associations are just […]

What is Brand Equity? | Brand Marketing Blog · September 2, 2016 at 1:50 pm

[…] equity thus is the value of those future sales attributable to the brand(s) owned by the company. The definition of a brand is the preconceptions the customers, and those preconceptions affect sales. The brand equity is the […]

Privacy and Security as a Brand Differentiators | Brand Marketing Blog · October 24, 2016 at 5:01 pm

[…] affect a company’s ability to generate commerce in the future, and if you have read our definition of brand, then you know that the brand is all about future sales. People just don’t change their […]

Categorical Perception of Brands | Brand Marketing Blog · June 19, 2017 at 3:45 pm

[…] is hard enough to manage your company and your product’s brand, and that is, at least somewhat, in your control. But those brands are subject to the perceptions […]

Brand Standards Guide | Brand Marketing Blog · August 21, 2017 at 12:25 pm

[…] internally as well as externally, particularly the company mission and tone. We know from our definition of brand that our brand lives in the minds of our customers and potential customers, but it starts in the […]

What is Brand Equity? Apple example. | Brand Marketing Blog · November 22, 2017 at 3:25 pm

[…] equity thus is the value of those future sales attributable to the brand(s) owned by the company. The definition of a brand is the preconceptions the customers, and those preconceptions affect sales. The brand equity is the […]

Brand relationship strategies. | Brand Marketing Blog · January 4, 2018 at 7:08 am

[…] you enjoyed this, check out our article on the definition of brand with the definition from David Aaker, and many other marketing […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.