“If you go to a bank, you can trust that all employees have a common understanding of what ‘money’ means. If you go to a hospital, you strongly hope that all doctors will have an aligned understanding of what ‘disease’ means. In general, we expect professionals to share a common view of the fundamentals of their trade.
This is not true in branding. Experts do not share a common view of what ‘brand’ means. They call it everything from a gut feeling, a living memory, or an interface, to an intangible sum of attributes, or a business asset. To confuse matters further, many are using ‘brand’ when they actually mean something else (e.g., ‘company’ or ‘image’).
There is one definition for ‘profit’ and at least 30 for ‘brand’ (or ‘branding’). Leading economists have been getting it wrong for decades – yet people still trust them. ‘Brand fluff people’ have been intuitively getting it right for decades – yet people still don’t trust them.
Us branding professionals can take part of the blame. Instead of defining the fundamental term of our profession in a straight-forward way, we each create our own individual metaphors when talking about brand, often mistaking a description for a definition. The lack of a commonly accepted foundation for our profession makes the discourse imprecise at best and illogical at worst, which is a barrier to gaining trust with senior management in many companies.
But what do—or rather, what should—the terms ‘brand’ and ‘branding’ mean?
A brand is the sum of all expressions by which an entity (person, organization, company, business unit, city, nation, etc.) intends to be recognized.
That’s it. Not more, not less. A definition does not have to inspire or guide. The definition of life doesn’t provide guidance how to live it. The definition of football is quite dull, but what wealth of emotion is triggered by playing and watching it!”
Courtesy of Calin Hertioga, our RULER speaker and brand valuation director at Interbrand, together with Johannes Christensen in their article on branding fundamentals
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