Brand – “A particular identity or image regarded as an asset”– The Oxford Dictionaries
The word ‘brand’ get’s thrown around quite freely, whether talking about brand names, brand identity, or branding – almost each person has their own definition for the word.
So what is it, exactly?
Let’s start with what it’s not. Brand isn’t a logo, it’s not a specified colour scheme, and it’s not some famous designer’s name.
Brand is a gut feeling, it’s something instinctive, it’s honest and true and comes from a mixture of elements all working together on different levels. There’s no magic formula for having a winning brand – no matter what you might read. It’s highly subjective and cannot simply be created.
Of course there are the big brands which are instantly recognisable. Apple, Nike, and Google are all big brands, but what about people – Madonna, Barack Obama, the Pope – they’re brands too. A brand is that intuitive feeling you get when you look at something and you know what it is – you know what it represents, and you understand why it is the way it is.
If you look at Apple you know you’re going to get sleek design, and when you look at Madonna you expect something provocative, and if asked to explain why you know these things you might find it hard to come up with an answer because the truth is that that’s just how it is. Of course you do recognise brand elements – such as logos, colours, and tone of voice. But the reality goes much deeper than that.
A company could have everything set up by the book – their logo, their colours, their guidelines … there’s a whole list of things. But if the people representing the company aren’t communicating the brand in the way the act then it’s useless. In order to achieve success, the people behind it (and there will always be people behind it because it’s human), have to also be the brand, this then trickles down to the consumer.
You can spot Apple fans from a mile away – they mirror the brand in the way they dress or act, and it is this linking between the brand and it’s fans that serves to strengthen it.
So while there’s no quick 5 step guide towards branding, there is perhaps one golden rule, and that is to believe in what you have.