Everybody talks about what a brand is but not what it is not.

A lot of people talk about it. Yet very few people understand it. Even fewer know how to manage it. Still, everyone wants it, Branding – arguably the most powerful business tool since the spreadsheets.

What a brand is not.

First of all, a brand is not a logo. The term logo is short for logotype, design-speak for a trademark made from a custom-lettered word. The term logo caught on with people because it sounds cool, but what people really mean is a trademark, whether the trademark is a logo, symbol, monogram, emblem, or there graphic device. IBM uses a monogram, for example, while Nike uses a symbol. Both are trademarks, but neither are logos. What really matters here is that a logo, or any other kind of trademark, is not the brand itself. It’s merely a symbol for it.

A brand is not a logo.

Second, a brand is not a corporate identity system. An identity system is a 20th-century construct for controlling the use of trademarks and trade-dress elements on company publications, advertisements, stationary, vehicles, signage, and so on. Fifty years ago, lithography was the communication technology du jour; identity manuals were designed to dictate the sizes, colors, spacing, and architecture of printed page. Today’s there still need for identity manuals and the visual consistency they bring. But consistency alone does not create a brand.
Finally, a brand is not a product. Marketing people often talk about managing their brand, but what they usually mean is managing their products, or the sales, distribution, and the quality thereof. To manage a brand is to manage something much less tangible – an aura, an invisible layer of meaning that surrounds the product.

What a brand is.

A brand is person’s feeling about a product, service, or company. It’s a feeling because we’re all emotional, intuitive beings, despite our best efforts to be rational. it’s a person’s feeling, because in the end the brand is defined by individuals, not by companies, markets, or the so-colled general public. Each person creates his or her own version of it. While companies can not control this process, they can influence it by communication the qualities that make the product different thaa that product. When enough individuals arrive at the same feeling, a company can be said to have a brand. In other words, a brand is not what you it is. It’s what they say it.

A brand is not what you say it is. It’s what they say it is.

This article is taken from the book of “The Brand Gap” by Marty Neumeier.

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