In one sense, perhaps the most important sense, a brand is a promise. Think of some top brands and you immediately know what they promise: McDonald’s, Coca Cola, Budweiser, Ford, Apple AAPL -2.49%, MetLife MET -0.21%.
You know what you’re going to get with a well-branded product or service.
In another sense, a brand is a specific combination of logo, words, type font, design, colors, personality, price, service, etc.
It’s also a bundle of attributes. Think of Volvo, for instance, and your first thoughts are probably going to be something like “well built, comfortable, Swedish” and, most of all, “safety.”
The promise, look, personality and attributes can eventually acquire a special patina of what I call “me” appeal. Buying a certain brand says something about the person who buys it. Apple has that patina. So does Prius. The booze and clothing businesses are filled with patina products: Cristal, Guinness, Ralph Lauren, Manolo Blahnik.
All of this can lead to sub-brands, like iPhone and iPad which acquire the aura of the parent brand.
It takes a lot of time, money and very hard work to build and maintain great brands like that, brands that can speak volumes in just a few syllables.