Most traditional definitions of brand omit the single most significant distinction, which is the relationship between the buyer and seller that lies at the heart of every brand. These two actors relate to the brand in substantively different ways, with clearly distinguished perspectives, terms, expectations, needs and basic understandings of what it all means. Our definition of a brand, therefore, centers on the buyer- seller relationship.
Brands are defined by the customer. They exist as a feeling that extends beyond the product. A brand is the emotional and psychological relationship you have with your customers. Strong brands elicit thoughts, emotions and sometimes physiological responses from customers. Brands such as Google, Aflac, UPS, Starbucks, Proctor & Gamble and Harley Davidson are some of the major brands that customers react to positively.
There are four elements of every brand; satisfaction, collaboration, relationship and story. A brand represents the principal satisfaction that a customer expects and desires from the process of buying and using a product or service. Coke for example, represents far more than colored, sugared water, as the company's slogans suggests; this drink adds a certain spice to life, representing a pause that refreshes. Between the lines it says, 'stop and smell the roses, enjoy your life, in a certain lusty but playful way' and perhaps most important, 'do it with friends and family. Decades of branding have deeply imprinted on us that coke is as much a social activity as it is a personal thirst quencher. A brand also represents an ongoing collaboration between the seller and buyer. While a single event may position a brand in the mind and heart of a customer,
a brand summarizes the totality of these many experiences. Each positive or negative outcome of the buying and selling experience goes into the buyers 'emotional bank account'. This collaboration produces a buyer/seller relationship. Most companies and marketing managers do not yet understand what it means to have a relationship with a customer. A relationship has no brand value until management supports it with specific policies, training and technical infrastructure. Developmental psychology and brand management both deal with the way that human beings grow and form lifelong relationships anchored by a core social identity. Every brand tells a story. Some stories speak to a broader set of desires and needs than others. In all cases, the story gives meaning to the relationship and its evolution over time. Ultimately, the best stories transcend the buyer/seller relationship. Not for a minute do we forget that transactions make the world go around; but the context of those transactions (the brand story) can uplift the transaction to a lifelong, heartfelt affiliation.
Branding has value for both the buyer and the seller. Your brand will be the blueprint of your customer experience design, it will favor all conversation about you and it will align your advertising and promotional activities. Your brand determines your position and strength of your entire marketing framework. Branding your business yields both internal and external benefits. Externally, you create an identity that resonates with customers; you form emotional relationships with customers. That is important because people don't buy products logically, they buy with their emotions. Within your business your brand serves as an internal compass of focus. If you clearly brand your business, you and your customers will have an understanding what you are about. You will have self awareness, which will dictate your actions. All decisions, not just marketing will be made in alignment with your brand. Overtime you will build a stronger business identity.
The value of branding is related to the trust, the confidence that generates in the user of the product and the prestige that the user thinks he will obtain by using it. Thus, for the seller, a good brand increases the perceived value of its product and so allows it to have a better price and better sales. For example, you will pay more for a Gillette razor than for a regular twin blade razor; even if certifications are brought showing that it is exactly the same product, made from the same machine. For the buyer it is exactly this, 'confidence that is properly made'.
- Kotler, P., & Armstrong, G. (2010). Product, Service & Branding Strategy. In J. Shelstad (Ed 13), Principle of marketing (pp. 222-255). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education Inc. .