Here’s my definition: 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.
If the consumer (whether it’s a business, a buyer, a voter or a donor) doesn’t pay a premium, make a selection or spread the word, then no brand value exists for that consumer.
A brand’s value is merely the sum total of how much extra people will pay, or how often they choose, the expectations, memories, stories and relationships of one brand over the alternatives.
A brand used to be something else. It used to be a logo or a design or a wrapper. Today, that’s a shadow of the brand, something that might mark the brand’s existence. But just as it takes more than a hat to be a cowboy, it takes more than a designer prattling on about texture to make a brand. If you’ve never heard of it, if you wouldn’t choose it, if you don’t recommend it, then there is no brand, at least not for you.
If you hear a designer say this (believe it or not, I didn’t make this quote up), “A TCHO Chocolate bar, with its algorithmic guilloche patterns, looks like a modern form of currency. “Modern” was always part of the brand brief — no faux traditionalism, but resolutely forward-looking for a new generation of chocolate enthusiasts…” then I wonder if there’s a vocabulary disconnect.
Design is essential but design is not brand.
PS a Google tip: you can find the definition of any word by typing “define:” followed by the word into your search box.