What is a Brand after all? Asks Harish Bijoor
Jul 31 2012, 19:45 | By SME Mentor
Harish Bijoor, Brand Consultant
Marketing Gyan with Harish Bijoor
In all those years of digging into the gut of a brand as a practitioner, I have never really attempted a true-blue definition of the brand on my own.
As I grew up in the early days, a novice in the world of Marketing and Sales, I have always depended on the classical definition of yore. The brand is a promise! A promise that marketers tout and a promise that consumers reach out to. A promise that represents value!
As the days went by, and as one began to rub shoulders with the reality of the brand in the marketplace as an entity that is alive, kicking and forever active, one needed a definition that was as alive, kicking and contemporary as a brand really is. And this quest has led me onto different routes of exploration.
Today, I remain in perennial quest of the definitive definition of a brand that is full and complete. In this long road of quest then, I have approaches to the definition of a brand that I present in this piece.
Let me then start with a set of questions I asked last week at an International fora of brand academics, students, researchers, practitioners and sundry other folk in London. I was speaking to this motley bunch on the basic DNA of a brand. And I needed to start with a definition!
I asked the inane question out loud then! What is a brand?
Out came the answers from every quarter. First in a trickle of embarrassment and then in a cascade of wanting to embarrass!
A name. A colour. A slogan. A symbol. A promise! There it was! A consistency. A friend. A value. An expectation. And much more!
A bundle of lies! A myth! A hoax!
A student of Sanskrit at the local University even called it "Maya" and felt pretty happy with that description! An apparition! A virtuality. And the list went on.
As I listened to this entire list, I wondered whether the understanding of the brand and its definition would ever stop with any one word or phrase. There were just too many going around. The brand is too macro a concept! So macro that one found it difficult to define and tie within a single word or set of words strung together tightly, as definitions attempt to do!
I looked at the German scholar of Sanskrit and told him that he just might be right! The brand is "Maya" for sure! In many ways, the brand is very difficult to define!
My years of living with the brand in the marketplace tell me the brand is a very different thing than what most of us imagine it to be. To many of us, the brand is what we perceive it to be. And each derive a whole set of perceptions all their own! After all, the brand in itself is a perception, and not a reality. To a big extent, it is indeed this 'Maya' bit the student of Sanskrit so proudly pouted.
The DNA of a brand is what we seldom understand. We understand the brand as a single word. A single special meaning. In its entirety though, it seems a difficult thing to tie down!
And so, just some few years ago, I sat myself down under a Peepul tree of my own making, and in dawned some awakening. An awakening that made me probe a specific definition I tout today proudly from pulpits of wherever I happen to speak on the subject.
And we shall discuss that next week!
Harish Bijoor is a Marketing and Brand strategy specialist and CEO, Harish Bijoor Consults Inc.
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