brand elephant

brand-as-business bit:  In my inaugural piece as a regular contributor on OPEN Forum, I talk about how attempts to define a brand make me think of the elephant parable. You know the one in which different blind men describe an elephant based on what different body parts feel like.

I referenced a few brand definitions from the world’s leading brand thinkers as compiled in Debbie Millman’s Brand Thinking and Other Noble Pursuits.  While the book included some real doozies (“Branding is a profound manifestation of the human condition”), I did find the overall collection quite provocative.  Among the comments that resonated most strongly with me were:

Sean Adams:  I think the biggest misconception is that people typically think their logo is their brand, and they believe that if they redesign their logo, they’ve somehow managed their brand…A brand is not necessarily visual.  It’s a promise of an experience.

Brian Collins:  We create brands – we create beliefs, we create belief systems.

Virginia Postrel:  A brand is a promise of a certain kind of consistency and continuity over time…Today, value is less about brand attributes, and more about brand meaning.

Despite the great fodder, I believed the complete, most valuable view of what a brand is was still missing.  So I wrote the OPEN Forum piece to explain that  a brand isn’t a thing; it’s an equation:

Brand = Culture + Customer Experience + Communication. 

Please check it out and let me know what you think.

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