Design insights & tutorials.

What is a “Brand”?

I read a lot of industry produced articles and papers on branding, all have one thing in common, the message is confusing, they use a plethora of “tech talk” and what I can only describe as gibberish, so let’s start anew.

First off a logo is not a brand; a logo is a symbol or mark used to represent a company or person usually simple in design and flat in colour, although this generally does not hold fast in our day and age.

The word “logo” derives from the Greek word Logo-gram, ‘logos’ meaning ‘word’ and ‘gram’ meaning ‘what is written’. The word ‘Logotype’ is its proper form, but through time and the nature of language it has been shortened to ‘Logo’. But the important thing is a logo is part of an identity system, so when you hear the term Logo banded around, what people really mean is trademark.

Your trademark lets the consumer know through consistency and familiarity, who the service or product is from and if they can trust it, because as humans, we are intuitive and emotionally driven, trust is the foundation for any brand; think about Coca-Cola, what do you think about? Maybe it’s the trademark we all know and love, maybe the iconic bottle, most probably it’s that great taste, but the important thing is that when you pick up a bottle of Coke you know that you can trust it, you trust that it’s going to taste like coke, you trust it’s going to make you feel good and quench your thirst.


Because you know the brand, it’s been a part of all our lives for so long, you know what to expect and it always meets your expectations, and as long as the guys at Coca-Cola keep meeting those expectations they will remain the premium in their market.

Secondly, packaging does not make a brand, packaging much like the trademark is there as an identifying system used to bring harmony and conformity, and it also offers additional information on products and services.

This brings us to products, which also is not the brand, rather, it is your offering to the world, what will bring differentiation to your company, because unless you have a new invention, most products already exist, but you will set your product apart from another by carefully considering the things that make it unique.

This of course is a very brief overview of different systems within a company but demonstrates that the things you probably first think of are not the brand itself. There are a multitude of other systems we could discuss, but it’s not the purpose of this article, so let’s cut to the chase… what is a brand?

“A brand is a person’s emotional response” — Marty Neumeier, a well known brand collaboration expert — said. “It’s the individuals “gut feeling” about your company, product or service”.

And it really is about individuals, you may have a demographic or target market, but individuals make up the masses, and when a multitude of individuals come to the same conclusion about your company, product or service then you have yourself a brand and “Brand Management” is about controlling this non tangible human feeling/emotion. This is what builds all of the strongest brands we know today.

Take Apple for instance, they captured peoples imagination’s and hearts with not only their great products, but with the advertising and packaging, look at their iconic silhouette dancers advertisement that adorned not only printed materials but television ads as well, for the release of their original iPod, before Apple came along advertising technology was about technicalities and specifications but Apple threw that out the window and created a product you wanted, not one you needed.

Getting individuals to ‘Want’ your products is a feat that all brand managers should be aiming for, because when you ‘Want’ something it’s an emotional response, it’s a purchase out of emotion or an impulse, not one made on necessity.

So a brand is about controlling the emotions and feelings of your consumer’s or the people you want to be your consumers, being able to come up with a campaign that’s going to capture the heart, or the imagination of people, and one of the only ways to manage brand is by expert use of not only the strategy behind a clever or intelligent campaign but the execution of design within the campaign, basically the concept has to be just as great as the execution. This is what will be discussed in the next article…

About the Author, Aaron Grieve

Based in the south east of England, I enjoy all areas of work anything I can get my hands on, My style is varied with a real love for all things creative, from "sober" brand building to my self proclaimed, more playful illustratative style. I was asked once, "So what do you do?" i never really know what to say, I replied "I draw pretty pictures most of the time"... make of that what you will. Aaron.
Discover More by Aaron Grieve


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  • Seana

    Yes – make ‘em buy things they WANT. Because the things they NEED are not the ones we’re making a living with. :-)

    Marketing works over emotions and often subconsciously.

    Make ‘em feel good with your product and they’ll come back. :-)

    Thanks for the article. You’ve put the most important things in a nutshell.

  • Brad Simonis

    One thing is changing the traditional brand – Social Media. A brand used to be built by traditional media, featuring one-way messaging to the consumer. Of course, then, like now, the user’s experience with the brand had to match the brand’s positioning in order for brand equity to be built. The difference now is that it is the ability to share that user experience via social media that has the consumers building the brand’s equity, not the company.

  • Dan Collins

    Good post. Concise and clear coverage of the emotional essence of a brand. Thanks.

  • Thebmancoo

    Really good post. I think many people have an obscure vision that a brand realize on only a logo. When offering my clients brand development I usually do this as a package including marketing concepts that try to push what and why what they are offering can help the masses. It’s a lot of fun when a client wants to go the full route with branding. I also think that branding works a little bit better when the client actually offers a physical product. I sometimes have a hard time trying to convey branding concepts to those who offer a service rather then an actual product. I most definitely agree that a brand works off of human emotion. For example I took three months to decide weather I should an iPad or wait for an android tablet to come out I had already owned the first generation iPhone years ago that I was very happy with at the time. I was very close to giving android a chance because they are doing some really cool things but my deciding factor relied on the message that Steve jobs conveys through apple. I watched a speech he
    gave and was touched by every word he said (as corny as that sounds). The next day I went and bought an iPad and I couldn’t be happier with it. So that’s where in my mind I let trust be the deciding factor.

  • Aa


  • Aa

    good job

  • Lisa Thomason

    Wow! Great article, this is sometimes the missing ingredient from a design the emotional aspect glad you covered it so well. LT

  • Jeff Jones

    Thats exactly it ‘TRUST’ with any brand, excellent article, Cheers

  • custom graphic designs

    Brand image is very important for every business. Very well written and explained. Thanks for sharing. Keep posting.

  • Plastic Cards

    Great post about What a Brand is, some businesses neglect this very important aspect, it is definitely about feelings and you covered this well!

  • Lisa Thomason

    Brand marketing has many different aspects and is most powerful when it works over emotions and often the best method is subconsciously, LT

  • Mac How

    Thanks for the article. there is another point, you missed the buyout. There are several types of brands: 1. “genuine”, buyout describe you and “bloated”, ie on which there is only a name, a birthplace of light by means of fashion and PR. this, in recent years has become greater. people do not want to work on their behalf. here and now, the motto of our time, where there is no room diligence and patience.

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    Nice work..

  • Menu Templates

    Really interesting article. Can’t find the next article in the series though?

  • Menu Templates

    Really interesting article. Can’t find the next article in the series though?