This post is part 1 in our series on the architecture of a brand. For part 2, see Visual Identity.
As we begin this series on the mechanics of branding, we felt that it would be natural to begin by answering the basic question: “what is a brand?”
The word “brand” as used to describe the public facing identity, or trademark, of a company or organization, seems to have been in wide circulation for the past several years. Especially since the increasing growth of social media and digital marketing.
The word takes much of it’s origin from cattle ranching in the 18th century where a hot branding iron was used to sear a mark into the shoulder of each head of cattle. This mark served to identify which ranch the head belonged to.
In contemporary marketing, a brand is the perception that comes to mind when the public hears your brand name. This includes both the tangible facts (e.g. your brand manufactures high-end automobiles), and intangible ideas or beliefs (e.g. your brand is exhilarating!)
This perception is the sum of each individual’s total experiences with (interactive) and of (passive) your brand. Transactions, customer service, advertising, media publicity, and word-of-mouth are all examples of experiences which shape the perception of your brand.
It is important to note that not all of these experience types are first-hand with your brand, which means that they can be out of your immediate control. This compounds the importance of positive, high-quality, primary brand experiences.
Lastly, these experiences and perceptions are centralized around the identity of your brand. This includes your brand name (“Coca-Cola,” “Ford”), your logo or mark (e.g. the Nike “swoosh”), your brand color treatment, and any slogan or tagline.
In our next post, we will take a further look at customer experience and it’s place in your branding strategy.
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