A brand’s distinction is whatever separates it from its competitors, makes it stand out as extraordinary or different or, better yet, more valuable to the end user.
There is much confusion in the marketplace as to what a brand is. If you’re not sure you understand all the brand stuff you’re hearing and seeing, we offer our understanding. There are too many unqualified brand experts out there—agencies included. They are part of the cause of much of the confusion.
Let us start with the obvious. Brand is not a logo, an advertising tag line or design elements. According to Webster’s, a brand is a “claim of distinction.” To certified brand specialists, a brand is “an undisputable, evidence of distinction” and something that can be proved.
And, although the words are used interchangeably, there is also a difference between “branding” and “brand development.” Branding being the tactics used to deliver a brand’s distinction and brand development being the discovery process used to unearth a brand’s distinction.
We witness “branding” as the Holy Grail for most advertisers and the specialty of many agencies. Again we wonder. There have been all kinds of great and correct brand development and branding examples to reference and clear up the mystery, just look around! Disney, Maytag, Apple, and many more incredibly brilliant brand case histories. Still, there’s confusion.
Remember, the definition of a brand is, “An evidence of distinction.” To uncover that distinction requires a process of discovery, not an ad campaign. At least, not yet. Branding tactics are the consistent use of color, graphics, and spokespeople used in the communication of a brand’s distinction. But, please, don’t think that the color, graphics or spokesperson is the distinction. Those could change with the next campaign. No, a brand’s distinction is whatever separates it from its competitors, makes it stand out as extraordinary or different or, better yet, more valuable to the end user.
An example of brand development and branding done right is Maytag. Maytag’s evidence of distinction is, “our machines won’t break down.” How is that communicated? The loneliest repairman delivers the message to you. Maytag’s distinction is higher quality and it’s obvious. Without any brand value like Maytag’s a competing manufacturer’s only measure of value becomes price.
Again, you can see the need for brand development or a discovery process. Without it, the branding tactics are simply communicating the consistent use of color, graphics and spokespeople. And that is what a brand is not.