What is a Brand?

by | March 10, 2009

Marketing analysis is primarily concerned with identifying a market, understanding it, and developing a product to fill a need in the market. (There are of course, other logistical details, such as understanding what is required to make the product profitable.)

But a product is just a physical object or service. A brand, on the other hand, is a product that has consistent emotional and function benefits attached to it. Products are interchangeable - a brand builds value. Brands engage the consumer, inspire an emotional reaction, and are consistent in their appearance. What attributes create brands?

Consistent strategy
Products that are constantly changing their strategies/market positions will never hold a consistent place in the consumer's mind. Owning a piece of the consumer's mind makes a brand a brand. When you think of a coffee shop, you now think of Starbucks - that's because Starbucks is a successful brand.

Consistent appearance
What do people think of visually when they think of your brand? Everyone knows Nike's logo - an elegant, high-speed swoosh.

Positioning
Good brands must stand for different things than their category competitors. Volvo cars, for example, are associated with safety, while Corvettes stand for sporty speed, and Saturns for value and good customer service.

Connection with target audience
A brand must build an emotional connection with the consumers who use it. The consumer must feel that there are no substitutes in the marketplace. Consumers may choose Pepsi or Coke in a blind taste test - but that "preference" has little to do with the drink they actually buy in the supermarket.

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