The most distinctive skill of professional marketers is their ability to create, maintain, protect and enhance their brand. Marketers say that “branding is the art and cornerstone of marketing”. In this article we’ll be looking at what is a brand and its definition with meaning.
The American marketing Association defines a brand as follows :
“A Brand is a name, sign, symbol, or design or a combination of them, intended to identify the goods or services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of competitors”.
What is a Brand:
In essence, a brand identifies the seller or maker. It can be a name, trademark, logo or other symbol. A brand is essentially a seller’s promise to consistently deliver a specific set of features, benefits, and services to the buyers. The best brands convey a warranty of quality. At the same time a brand is even a more complex symbol. A brand can convey up to six levels of meaning:
- Attributes :
A brand first brings to mind certain attributes. Thus, Mercedes suggests expensive, well built, well engineered, durable, high prestige, high resale value, fast, and so on. The company may use one or more of these attributes to advertise the car. For years Mercedes advertised, “Engineered like no other car in the word”. This tagline served as the positioning platform for projecting the car’s other attributes.
- Benefits :
A brand is more than a set of attributes. Customers are not buying attributes; they are buying benefits. Attributes need to be translated into functional and/or psychological benefits. The attribute “durable” could translate into the functional benefits, “I won’t have to buy a new car every few years.” The attribute “expensive” might translate into the psychological benefit, “The car helps me feel important and admired.” The attribute “well built” might translate into the functional and emotional benefit, ” I am safe in case of an accident.”
- Values :
The brand also says something about the producer’s values. Thus, Mercedes stands for high performance, safety, prestige, and so on. The brand marketer must figure out the specific groups of car buyers who are seeking these values.
- Culture :
The brand may represent a certain culture. The Mercedes represents German culture : organized, efficient, high quality.
- Personality :
The brand can also project a certain personality. If the brand were a person, an animal, or an object, what would come to mind? Mercedes may suggest a no-nonsense boss (person), a reigning lion (animal), or an austere palace (object). Sometimes it might take on the personality of an actual well-known person or spokesperson.
- User :
The brand suggests the kind of consumer who buys or uses the product. We would be surprised to see a 20-year-old secretary driving a Mercedes. We would expect instead to see a 55-year-old top executive behind the wheel. The users will be those who respect the product’s values, culture, and personality.
If a company treats a brand only as a name, it misses the point of branding. The challenge in branding is to develop a deep set of meanings for the brand. When the audience can visualize all six dimensions of a brand, the brand is deep, otherwise it is shallow. A Mercedes is a deep brand because we understand its meaning along all six dimensions.