What is a brand anyway?

Back in the day, ranchers used irons to mark which animals were theirs. As cattle arrived in Chicago Union Stock Yards after trekking across the plains, it was easy to know which ranches they were from because of their brand.

With the rise of packaged goods in the 1800s, everything started to have a “mark” – cough drops, flour, sugar, beer, etc. The Coca-Cola Company took things to the next level in the late 1880s with its flowing script to ensure that consumers could easily identify a Coke from all the other fizzy caramel-colored beverages on the market.

Fast forward a century or so and marketers now know that consumers have a personal, emotional response to a product or service’s brand. However, just like your relationship status on Facebook, it can be complicated. When you ask people why they love a particular brand, it can be hard for them to put into words.


But what even IS a brand? It might be easier to start with what a brand ISN’T.


A brand is not:

    • your logo
    • your tagline
    • your product
    • your service


All of these things can be expressions of your brand, but they are not your brand.


Branding is about the promise of a distinct, memorable experience. It’s about creating an expectation and delivering it consistently every time anyone comes into contact with your product or service whether it’s the way you answer the phone, how your website functions, your customer service process, how your office looks or how your product/service performs. It’s how you make your customers feel about themselves and their decisions when they are interacting with your brand. It’s why you shop at store A vs. store B even if the price or product might not be that much different. Your brand should be both factual (i.e. it comes in a robin’s egg blue box) and emotional (it’s romantic)… NAME THAT BRAND! Ultimately it’s about how your brand makes someone feel and getting them to come back for more of that feeling.


A good way to define your brand is to think of your business as a person.


    • What do they wear (logo, colors, images)?
    • How do they speak (content and positioning)?
    • What do they stand for (promise and foundation)?
    • Who do they hang out with (target market)?
    • Are they popular (brand awareness)?


Developing a strong, authentic brand and delivering it consistently is the foundation upon which every successful business is built. Need help uncovering what makes you special, differentiates you from the completion and defines who you are? Contact us today!