What is a Brand Anyway

When a company talks about its “brand,” it is referring to:

A. The company name.
B. The company logo.
C. The company culture and values.
D. The company’s product or service
E. All of the above.

The correct answer is “e,” “all of the above,” —–and more.

A brand is not exactly marketing, nor is it truly advertising or public relations.  It isn’t just a logo, or the font, or the color palette on the website—although all of these are important aspects.  A brand isn’t even a product or service.

A brand is actually more intangible than all of these things.  It has to do more with emotions, feelings, and perceptions.  What does that mean? It means that the way a consumer feels about a company, product, or service is what defines a brand.

Can you use all of the above elements to help create the desired feeling? Absolutely.  But at the end of the day, it is the consumer or customer’s perception of your brand that matters.

Take a company like Soul Cycle for example.  There is a perception that the experience of a Soul Cycle class will transcend simply physical exercise.  That notion is reinforced by not just the name, but the white walls and cheery, yet simple yellow logo and accents.  The candle-lit room, the motivational phrases, and the magazine cover worthy instructors all work together in harmony to create an experience that the customer will perceive as positive, uplifting, challenging, and beautiful.

Once that level of expectation is met, and trust is established, that’s when brand loyalty develops—through an emotional buy-in.

That’s why a “brand” can be difficult to define, and even more difficult to create, especially when every business wants to stand out in the overcrowded marketplace.

What makes that even trickier is that one brand has to relate to thousands of people, all of whom have different things that they want out of the company, product or service.

Let’s go back to Soul Cycle.  They manage to meet the needs of everyone from the die-hard athlete looking for a solid cardio workout, to the beginner who needs the extra motivation that comes from the well-timed phrasing and verbal cues, to the client who wants the intensity of the physical workout with the Zen aspect of a yoga class.

Finally, there is no denying the appeal to the social media set who want that perfect Instagram shot that is easily achieved thanks to the photo-worthy lobbies, fashions, and instructors.

This is an excellent example of a company that understands the needs of its clientele and meets them where they live.  I

Defining and creating your brand based on intangibles is no easy feat, but by understanding your clients, your competition, and your employees, you too can create a brand that becomes synonymous with the perception of your business or industry.

At Cardigan Communications, we specialize in helping companies define their differentiators and use them to create an entire branding experience.  If we can help you, let us know.


Cardigan is an employer branding and internal communication consultancy that helps companies get the most from their people and culture.