Defining “Brand”

I’ve been contemplating the term “brand” quite frequently as of recent and I have to say that it is a rather frustrating concept to accept and understand. You see brands, both personal and corporate, animate and inanimate, can be extremely difficult to define with one, all-encompassing definition. Because of this, many people attempt to frame their definitions in such a way that they understand, but not in a way that can’t be refuted. This creates vagary and in some ways even diminishes the weight held in the word. That’s where my frustration comes in. How can a word be so talked about, valued, and emphasized, be so difficult to frame?

In spite of the fact that there are some difficulties that are encountered when trying to describe what is really a gigantic word, acceptable descriptions do exist. I came across the video you can watch below on Carlos Whitaker’s blog Ragamuffin Soul. He posted it in the context of creativity but I’m sharing it with you based on what it has to say about branding.

A brand is really a way of remembering what something is like for future reference.

As Michael Wolff mentioned in the video, “a brand is really a way of remembering what something is like for future reference. Something you value, something you feel attracted to.” I paused and thought about this for a few minutes. What is it about a person that allows you to remember what they are like, what do you really value about them and what about them are you attracted to? It’s pretty easy to think of answers to these questions individually, but I think the key is finding overlap between them. If the answer is yes to all of these questions, then the attribute is a characteristic that impacts a brand.brand venn diagram

Now each of these characteristics have to be packaged in such a way that people can embrace it as something that is valuable, choosable, and receivable. That packaging, according to Wolff, is branding. It’s too soon for me to start broadcasting what characteristics of mine I want to package and use to represent myself to people. I simply haven’t given it enough thought. But I do sense that spending some time analyzing how one’s brand is “packaged” is a worthy pursuit. Discovering how you can not just persuade people, but actually getting them to be moved is a powerful advance into the realm of leveraging a brand. I don’t know about you, but I’ll be fixated on discovering how people can be moved for a while to come.


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