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What is a brand, anyway? Reflections that go from business to life

Many concepts hover around the market, and one time the perspective brought by author Anne Miltenburg in her book “Brand the Change” caught my attention:

“Branding is about directing how other people think and feel about you. Your brand is a compass that directs everything you do, from your actions to your communication. From these, people will (unconsciously) build an archive of associations about your brand. By knowing how you want to be recognized by others and designing the right actions to build that recognition, you can actively guide how others think and feel about you.”
(Free translation)

From this insight, I created the narrative that whenever someone meets us for the first time (whether in person or virtually, or even hears about us, for example), that person creates a “little folder” on their mental hard drive with our name on it. That’s it. From now on, whenever they have some contact or reference to us (stimulus), they will add a new “file” to this folder.

Their impression of us will always result from combining all these files in the folder. The more files added, the more consistent the perception – the longer we live together, the better we get to know someone (or at least this is the tendency).

By observing through this perspective, we then understand that a customer’s perception of a brand is composed of the combination of numerous stimuli that they have experienced along their journey – from the friend who shared the company’s profile on a social network, to the first visit to the store, to the sales clerk’s smile and the moment of unboxing the product when they get home.

But after all, what is a brand?

A brand is a set of elements (tangible and intangible) that manifest its values, beliefs, essence, and identity. When well orchestrated, they can produce a solid and consistent perception that gives it value and determines how the public will interact with it, including the willingness to pay higher prices.

The brand expresses value (or misses opportunities to do so) every moment. At every touch point, we can see, appreciate, and understand how valuable a brand is – and consequently, how much we want to keep or eliminate it from our lives. And this is why understanding and taking care of the customer experience journey with a brand is so important.

Add this to all the emotional repertoire linked to this perception, and you have built genuine connections and relationships.

Day after day, we work to build the positioning we want. Whether as individuals, professionals, brands, or businesses. Without a doubt, the secret is consistency. But looking at it in a deeper layer, we realize that the true perception that endures will always be linked to how we make people feel. This will be the most essential and lasting record we can achieve.

The question remains: what is the quality and relevance of the stimuli we offer to the people around us? Reflecting on this goes far beyond reflecting on our brand positioning – it means, fundamentally, observing ourselves and trying to understand important aspects of our essence deeply.

Ultimately, we learn that more than understanding our brand, we need to understand the mark we leave behind.

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