I just finished reading two great books on branding, The Brand Gap and Zag. The book's author Marty Neumeier is president of San Francisco based Neutron, a brand consulting firm. I highly recommend these two books to anyone involved in marketing or running a company. I have already been able to apply some of their teachings into my work with our client's marketing strategies. The first thing that Neumeier lays to rest is the idea that a brand is a logo. Ok, sure. A brand is obviously much more than just a logo. However, Marty goes on to state that a brand is also not a comprehensive corporate identity system, and not even a company's product. Ok, well it's got to be the personality of a company's product, right? Nope. His definition of a brand is:
A person's perception of a product, service, experience, or organization.
Basically he says your company's brand isn't what you say it is - it's what they say it is. Your brand is defined by the consumer’s intuitive "get feeling" about your product. It's the difference between your personality and your reputation.
Now, I know that the term "brand" is a pretty broad word, everyone has their own meaning and uses it in a different way. However, I really like how Neumeier describes the term. While it requires me to change the way I use the term, I am going to adopt his meaning. By doing so we can define branding as:
The process of shaping a person's perception of a product, service, experience, or organization.
Perfect—that is what we have been doing all along!