What is a Brand?

The day has finally arrived. The curtain has dropped and Proof is open for business, ready to begin distilling finely crafted brands. We’re glad you’re here. When we talked about starting this company, one of the first round-table questions that came up was, “What is a brand?” - An important question to answer as we “brand” ourselves a full-service branding agency.

Wikipedia (the most reliable source on the web) offers up the following definition:

A brand is the personality that identifies a product, service or company (name, term, sign, symbol, or design, or combination of them) and how it relates to key constituencies: Customers, Staff, Partners, Investors etc.

Here’s what we came up with:

Sam Davidson

“A brand is big. It’s memorable. It’s not a single product, but an experience. It’s how you feel when you surf the Web on your iPhone or put on a pair of TOMS shoes. It’s the story that emerges when someone asks you where you got your shirt or what kind of car you drive. People talk about brands. Brands fill our lives because they fill our eyeballs, ears, memories, and hearts. The trick is to become one. It never happens overnight, but you know when you’ve become one. Your fans, followers, friends, and freaks will let you know.”

Matt Cheuvront

“A brand is the essence, it is the life-force. It’s much more than what you see – it’s emotional, it’s an atmosphere, an experience, a connection. It’s made up of all the little things your business or organization represents. Your brand is not entirely defined by you. For better or worse, Your customers, clients and fans have a big hand in crafting a brand identity. This is why it’s imperative to tap into your audience’s psyche and provide something that’s truly memorable.”

Rob Williams

“A brand is perception. Something or someone cannot simply decide to be a brand. The audience forms an opinion based on information presented by the subject (logo, web and print presence, marketing, packaging and performance) or information from other sources (word-of-mouth, rumor), that opinion is the brand. Branding has the power to add value to people or products. For instance, instead of buying an audio player someone buys an iPod because the consumer perceives that how they listen to music is a statement on their lifestyle. Instead of buying a generic shoe, someone buys Nike because the consumer perceives that they will be faster and more athletic. Both Apple and Nike have successfully branded their products to be more than the sum of their parts.”

At Proof, we strive to bridge the gap between business and “end user” because we understand and appreciate the value of a true branding experience.

We couldn’t be more excited to finally say “hello and welcome” and whether you’re interested in working together or simply an avid reader of blog, we hope you’ll be a regular around here.

In true, “kick-off post” fashion, here are a few things to get your started:

You should also subscribe to our blog and follow us on Twitter.

(Photo credit Rob Williams)

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  • I’m into it. I’m looking for people to have a conversation with about this too broad of a topic. I’m really hoping that you people enjoy comment conversations. I definitely do… sometimes, and now would be one of those times.

    Branding is a very powerful force, but the label of “branding” is much too wishy-washy for me. It would be more appropriate to call it something more to the effect of, say, “Primeval Marketing.”

    But I like where you’re going with the whole branding ship. We need more.

    • Branding is a very general term – it encompasses a lot of different things – which is why, in the post above, there’s no clear definition.

      This is the biggest challenge and also the most exciting thing we face at Proof – our clients don’t come to us asking for “branding” – they want a website, a logo, a strategy plan – it’s then our job to sit down and talk to them about their overall identity and ‘brand’ message, and how those individual components (website, social media, etc) are components in developing their ‘brand’.

      Creating identities and experiences that are memorable is a fun business to be in…

    • Well said, Anthony. Very much enjoyed your presentation at Pivot (and bullshit-free branding article). Hopefully we can shake hands and grab a beer before things get wrapped up here…

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