What is a Brand?

Märchenbuch - German language book of children’s fairy tales 1919 A brand is a living, breathing organism created as a result of how the company’s customers perceive the company and its offerings. As such, a brand has a persona and a voice. It is natural for individuals to prefer the company of some people but not the company of others. Given a choice between two companies selling the same product, an individual will make a choice based on which persona they like best.

Brand as Promise

A brand is also a promise made and promises include expectations. Starbucks and I have a relationship in which Starbucks has promised me a certain experience that includes the quality of its beverages and foods, the friendliness of its staff, and the knowledge that the company is doing good in the world. In return, I have given Starbucks my loyalty and my hard-earned cash. As long as Starbucks continues to meet my expectations, it will continue to have my loyalty and my money.

Beware Inconsistencies

A consumer can spot contradictions and inconsistencies in a brand as easily as he can spot them in an individual. For this reason, it is imperative for brands to have consistent brand elements across channels. Tangible elements such as a company’s logo, the colors identified with the brand, product package, the tone of voice, etc. become beloved elements immediately associated with those promises and expectations. (Don’t believe me? Just how do you feel about Coca-Cola’s new green can?)

We all need stories. It is how we communicate with ourselves and each other. We tell ourselves stories and we listen to the stories of others, be it in music, film, or print. Our stories, and how we shape them define us. A brand is a story; it is how a company communicates with itself and with its customers. In the words of The (11th) Doctor: “We’re all stories in the end. Just make it a good one, eh?”).

Note: This post, in a previous version, was originally posted on Tumblr.

What do you think?