What is the true definition of the word brand? Does anyone really know? Maybe if we go to the Oxford Dictionary we can figure out why the word brand is so puzzling. I think you might agree the meaning of the word brand or branding is somewhat confusing and misunderstood. I really think it’s due to the over-saturation of marketing and advertising placed on everything, everywhere, all the time. Nobody really knows if the brand is the company, the product or the service or all three. Which is it? Even us marketers sometimes scratch our heads wondering how to define it and best take advantage of a brand’s key attributes.

Brand Tactics

But wait, it gets worse. Defining a brand is one thing, but what about how to activate it correctly while engaging the many other brand tactics things that surround it and make it perform better? What are those you ask? Great question… here’s a few that just might make your head spin. Remember, each one is defined a little differently and each one also interacts with the other to create an overall end-result.

[Brand activation, Brand relevance, Brand awareness, Branding, Rebrand, Sub-brand, Brand development, Brand expression, Brand lift, Brand equity, Brand promise, Brand material, Co-branding, Brand perception, Brand attributes, Brand family]

Try making sense of all these before grabbing hold of your own brand and setting the course for… yep, you guessed it — setting the course for what exactly? That’s why I’m writing this blog. Hopefully we can come up with a one-word definition for “brand” that will make our lives easier as marketers.

“Your brand is what your prospect thinks of when he or she hears your brand name.” – Forbes

“The foundation of your brand is your logo. Your website, packaging and promotional materials–all of which should integrate your logo–communicate your brand.” – Entrepreneur

Case and point. Above are quotes from two very well respected brands (you like that?). Okay, they are two journalistic icons and at the top of the brand equity chart in their industry. Why is it that both of them are describing the word brand two different ways? You see; it’s not that easy. According to an article called Why Does Your Brand Need to Stay Relevant? The true meaning of brand relevance can be fuzzy if it’s not well defined. Yeah, I know it’s not exactly brand, but it’s darn close. When marketing teams do understand why relevance plays such an important role, they soon figure out that the meaning of it is tied to the consumer perception of the brand, its strength and its products’ usability as it relates to their lifestyle.

Brand, Digital and Customer

Let’s dig a little deeper before we try to solve the brand mystery. As far as we know, customer change happens faster than brand change. As digital evolves, so does the way the brand reacts and interacts with it and also how the brand creates a two-way communication channel with the customer. Brands need to be more conscientious than ever to be more relevant to our customers. This is not easy since customer change happens faster than brand change. Before digital and social broke onto the scene, brands were the instigators of change. This is definitely not the case any longer. Consumers now cause change and drive brands to shift and react to them.

I’ve Got a Hunch About Branding

Maybe the real core meaning of branding is related to it actually becoming a verb. When your brand name eventually turns into a verb, is that when it has been fully recognized and defined? Hmm… we could be on to something here. You know, like Fed Ex, Xerox and Kleenex. They have all defined their brand and made it a verb in normal, everyday language. Of course, we all know how successful they are as well. Or maybe the core meaning of branding is when someone like a marketer can define it with one word. Here is mine. My definition for brand or branding in one word is, Identify. Much like the cattle herders from years gone by, they branded their cattle to easily identify them. Marketers today do the same. We want all of our marketing to be well branded and to be easily identifiable to our prospective customers and the market. Without that, the companies we work for probably wouldn’t be in business.


According to Entreprener.com, “Defining your brand is like a journey of business self-discovery. It can be difficult, time-consuming and uncomfortable.”  

— I wholeheartedly agree.

YourBrandExposed.com is a digital marketing and strategy consultancy that works with businesses big and small to solve their most difficult questions surrounding digital content creation, brand and creative development, generating qualified leads, business growth and strategic partnerships. Let us know how we can serve you.

Scott MacFarland

Founder, Chief Content Marketer, Digital Strategist – YourBrandExposed.com

Yourbrandexposed@yahoo.com  | HuffingtonPost | LinkedIn | Twitter @scmacfarland

Photo Credit: CC0 License – Pexels – UnSplash


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