How to Define “Brand”



When we deliver the Digital Marketing class at General Assembly, we start off with branding. Not digital branding — just branding. Digital marketing is, after all, still marketing, and in order to market effectively, you must first define your brand.

Early in the very first day of Digital Marketing, we ask the class to define the word “brand,” and then we offer up several other definitions from people who are much smarter and much more experienced than I am.

Here are a few of those definitions:

  • A brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service, or organization.
  • A brand is a person’s gut feeling, because brands are defined by individuals – not companies or markets.
  • A brand  is a gut feeling because people are emotional, intuitive beings.
  • A brand  is not what you say it is, it’s what they say it is.
  • “A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.” – Seth Godin
  • “A brand is emotional shorthand for accumulated or assumed information. A brand is present when the value of what a product, service, or personality means to its audience is greater than what it does for the audience.” – Austin McGhee

All of these definitions are accurate, but they’re all just a bit different. Defining the generic word “brand” is very difficult. Defining your own brand can be even more daunting. However, I want to give you an easier to understand, though perhaps harder to implement, definition of your brand.

Every word of every sentence of web copy; every social media post; every image; every photograph you share; every video, infographic, podcast, blog, guest blog, article, comment, retweet, and reply. Everything.

And that’s just digital media. A huge part of Steve Jobs’ personal brand was his tennis shoes, Levi’s, and black mock, not to mention his 3-day beard. Zuckerberg wears the same thing every single day. That is part of his brand. What t-shirts do your employees wear? What’s the sign on your door say? How do you answer the phone? How do you treat your biggest customers or your smallest? How do you onboard – and let go of – employees? What does your email signature say? Your company Twitter bio, Facebook page, and Linkedin summary?

Your brand is everything you do. If you are not intentional in defining your brand, the market will define it for you.

Start defining what “brand” means for you.