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What Is a Brand? Definition and Examples

What Is a Brand? Definition and Examples

12 min read
What Is a Brand? Definition and Examples

Why does my brand matter?

When you think of “branding,” you may first think of companies that have billions of dollars to spend on commercials, billboards, and narrative-driven marketing campaigns–for example, Amazon, Google, Target, or Starbucks.

But, even companies with limited marketing budgets can create identifiable, trustworthy brands that leave long-term impressions on people. And in a competitive real estate market, where your biggest competitor might be just down the street from you, a familiar brand identity might be an invaluable differentiator.

Building a brand identity is about more than creating marketing and sales collateral. It’s about ensuring that all of those things–including your website, printed pamphlets, content on listing sites, communications with clients, and even internal communications–all share a central goal.

If you’ve already workshopped and established a brand positioning statement, you’re ready to start thinking about how these things translate into external marketing materials.

What is a brand?

At its most basic level, a brand is a name you recognize. When you think of brands that you are familiar with, ask yourself what it is about them that makes them stand out in your mind.

It may be their logo, slogan, or theme song. But on a deeper level, the brand itself may evoke a certain feeling for you–ideally, one of trust and familiarity.

Because underneath all of the beautiful wrappings of marketing campaigns, really great brands have made a promise to customers.

Take, for example, a company like Starbucks. At a basic level, they sell coffee, snacks, and coffee equipment. But they also provide a relaxing cafe area where people can do homework, conduct meetings, or just read a book for an afternoon. These cafes don’t directly contribute to the company’s bottom line, but they are as important to the experience of visiting a Starbucks as a cup of coffee.

And people return to Starbucks, not because it’s the best cup of coffee in the world, but because it’s a consistent, trustworthy, familiar experience. It’s a promise, in their own words, “To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.”

What is your brand?

Starbucks is just one example of a strong brand. Think about a company or organization that you put a lot of trust in–what is their brand promise? What makes up the three main pillars of their brand? If you’re not sure, you might simply try searching for the name of the company and the words, “brand promise.”

If you could make a promise to your customers, what would it be? Would it be about properties and sales goals, or would it be about the experience they had with your organization?

Or, even more simply: if your company was a person, how would you describe them? What are the promises you’re delivering on to your customers that allow them to trust in and rely on you?

Once you’ve done that, take it to your employees. Conduct a short branding exercise to get everyone talking about your company’s brand identity and why it’s important–you may find that you have a strong brand identity already, it’s just that you never put it down on paper!

Now what?

Once you’ve established your brand positioning statement–which will help define your differentiating statements and market placement–and you’ve started drafting a brand promise based on the core values of your organization, it’s time to put both of those statements to work for you.

Start infusing those values and promises into the copy and content that goes on your website and in marketing collateral. Ask your graphic designers to do the same in the collateral they produce. In fact, you may go so far as to post your new brand promise on social media and on your website!

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