When is a brand not a brand?

Are all names brands?  Should we automatically confer the status of brand on a name or a logo? I think not.

Let me explain.

Sometimes a name is just that­–a name. Sometimes a logo is nothing more than a meaningless symbol.

This happens when potential customers don’t recognize the name or logo, or if they do, have no sense of its raison d’être.

In cases such as these the belief that a name or logo is a brand is largely wishful thinking on the part of the owner.

The owner may refer to his or her company as a brand. She or he may talk about this or that product or service as a brand. But saying it doesn’t make it so.

Owners can’t confer this status–only customers can.

A name only becomes a brand when it acts as an anchor in a customer’s mind for a compelling promise of value.

After all, what is the purpose of a brand if not to facilitate decision making for customers between alternative choices?

So before an owner can conceive of the name of the company or of any of its products and services as a brand, it would be more correct to see them as a brand-in-the-making.

Once customers know the name and associate it with a compelling promise of value the transition is complete.  The name or logo has likely earned the status of brand.

About ashleykonson

STRATEGY CONSULTING | EXECUTIVE COACHING | CORPORATE TRAINING | KEYNOTE SPEAKING | Ashley Konson is the Managing Partner of Global Brand Leaders Inc., a new kind of brand consulting company dedicated to making brands and their teams leaders across the globe. He is a Brand Leader, Business Consultant and Award-Winning Educator, and a recognized thought leader and fervent advocate of the premise that strong brands and businesses achieve and sustain their market positions because they are strong Inside out™.
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10 Responses to When is a brand not a brand?

  1. Mike Wilson says:

    Hi Ash, great read!

  2. Ron Wilson says:

    Thanks to you and Mike for the tips, Ashley!

  3. Rick N says:

    So when is a brand ‘born’? At what point can we consider it a brand? In the case where an owner is already thinking of their logo / name / company in terms of a brand, should we not give them the benefit of the brand? Sure, it may not be the most valuable brand if it has an associating group of one… but I would argue that as soon as there is an intention to confer raison d’etre, and a specific d’etre is envisioned, that a brand exists.

    • Mick Long says:

      A brand can be a subset of corporate product line management. Great example is General Motors where the brand may be directed to a specific price point or consumer demographic.

  4. Ashley, thanks for the great post! Yes, part of entrepreneurship is building a brand; it doesn’t happen overnight. Jeff Bezos once said, “A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.”

  5. ashleykonson says:

    Thank Mike, Ron and Rick. Based on my definition of a brand which is, “A set of associations linked to a product or service in the minds of customers through its name, logo etc. that provides a compelling promise of value,” I must conclude that the customer determines when a brand is born. Prior to that is a brand-in-the-making.

  6. Ron Nelson says:

    A great concept, to consider it as a “Brand in the Making.” The only thing I would add, is that while it is in the making – the business strategy and process are also consider in how they will affect the brand promise and experience. Building great brands ties together business and brand strategy.

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