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Brand – definition and meaning

A brand is the image and personality of a product or service that a business provides. A product’s features, such as logos or slogans, make it unique and different.

Branding was originally used hundreds of years ago to differentiate cattle. Cattle ranchers used branding irons to burn symbols on their livestock. They branded them so that slaughter houses could identify from which ranch the cattle came.

Farmers also branded their livestock so that it would be easier to find them if they were stolen.

However, brands are now more than just a means of differentiating products. Today, brands also convey a ‘promise.’ The promise is that the product you buy will meet the standards the manufacturer seeks to deliver.

Brands are intangible reputational assets. In fact, they are the most valuable asset of many corporations. Intangibles are assets you cannot touch, they have no physical form, but are valuable for the company.

Why is branding important?

Quality branding can result in higher sales of a product. In fact, even products that are associated with certain brands benefit from higher sales too.

A good example would be someone who enjoys Coca-Cola and tries other soft drinks by the company. The Coca-Cola Company also sells Sprite, Fanta, and Powerade.

Brand - the ten most valuable globally
The four most valuable brands in the world are technology companies. Sixty percent of the top ten are also technology companies. (Source: Forbes)

The positive brand image of Coca-Cola helps drive a consumer to other Coca-Cola Company products.

The psychology behind branding

Brands have a psychological as well as an experiential aspect.

Put simply; the brand experience includes “all the interactions people have with a product, service, or organization.” says Marty Neumeier. Neumeier is Director of Transformation at Liquid Agency Inc.

Brand image is the consumers’ perception of certain brands. Not only does it provide a mental image for the consumer, but also emotional value.

For example, Volvo is famous for its safety while we all see Ferrari as sporty. A positive brand image can do wonders for a company.

Establishing a brand

When brands develop a high degree of popularity, or they become famous, they have brand recognition.

Brand recognition can grow. In other words, its popularity can increase. Eventually, it becomes a brand franchise.

Having brand recognition means that you are on people’s radar. How can brands improve their recognition? By increasing awareness of the brands. 

Brands want people to know they exist, so they expand their reach. Marketing executives can achieve this through advertising, word-of-mouth, and engagement in the community.

Once brands have proved themselves in the market, they want customers to return. They gain customers by providing a compelling experience.

If a company can sustainably achieve this, then consumers remain happy. It is important to continue nurturing a sense of loyalty toward specific brands.

Brand management is the marketing technique that aims to improve the reputation of brands or products.

The ultimate goal – brand loyalty

All brands in the market want their consumers to come back on a regular basis.

The American Marketing Association defines brand loyalty as:

“The situation in which a consumer generally buys the same manufacturer-originated product or service repeatedly over time rather than buying from multiple suppliers within the category.”

Companies achieve brand loyalty if they prove to their consumers that their priorities include maintaining individual customer relationships.