The Meaning of “Brand”

by Adam on January 19, 2013

When you think of the word “brand,” what comes to mind? Certainly, there are companies that are brands, authors that are brands, products that are branded a certain way and resonate with consumers. With so many different instances and ideas of what a “brand” can be, what does it really come down to?

I was talking with someone recently (I can’t for the life of me remember now who it was, or else I’d give them credit for their part in the conversation) about the meaning of brand. The following was what came out of that discussion:

“A brand is the difference between the fair value of a product and what the consumer is willing to pay for it.” In short, the brand is the mark-up that a consumer pays to engage with that product. Stronger brands can command higher market value and hence higher price, which is at many times only kept in check by competition with other brands.

Many of us can remember our parents say to us (or us saying to our children) that the generic brand of “such and such” a product is just as good as the better-known item. This is likely true in almost every instance except perhaps RC Cola versus Coke or Pepsi, but in most instances, it is still a worthwhile argument to pursue.

Another way to look at it is that brands invest in marketing so that consumers are more aware of their products and as such will be more likely to buy those products. But in order to drive consumers to buy, a company has to use their marketing to establish credibility in the marketplace and by bringing more consumers on as customers, they are in essence using their brand credibility to convince consumers that the brand is worth paying more for (or just more worthwhile) than their competitors.

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