What Do We Mean By ‘Brand’?

November 13, 2016

The words brand and branding are thrown around liberally by all sorts of people in different contexts and with different meanings in mind, so it may help to start by asking ‘what exactly is a brand?’

The simplest answer is that a brand is a set of associations that a person (or group of people) makes with a company, product, service, individual or organisation. These associations may be intentional, they may be actively promoted via marketing and corporate identity, for example – or they may be outside the company’s control. For example, a poor press review for a new product might ‘harm’ the product manufacturer’s overall brand by placing negative associations in people’s minds.

Stella Artois has had to work hard to develop creative marketing campaigns and new product ranges to turn around the negative associations with the brand. These included the launch of a Cider, and a low alcohol (4%) beer.

Stella Artois advertising

To illustrate the idea further, let’s take what is arguably the best-known product – or brand – in the world: Coca-Cola. Although essentially just a soft drinks product, Coca-Cola the drink is eclipsed by the sheer might of Coca-Cola the brand.

Coca Cola advertising

This phenomenon is best summed up by the following quote from a Coca-Cola executive:

‘If Coca-Cola were to lose all of its production-related assets in a disaster, the company would survive. By contrast, if all consumers were to have a sudden lapse of memory and forget everything related to Coca-Cola, the company would go out of business.’

(Some content © The Design Council)