Over time, the word ‘Brand’ has acquired a multitude of meanings and usages, and is arguably among the most widely used and abused terms. The meaning seems deceptively clear to everyone – deceptively because almost everyone believes that they understand the term. This Brand Trust study notwithstanding, we had begun researching and discussing the meanings of the word ‘Brand’ with a purpose to decipher its meaning and make it easily understood and interpreted by anyone. Most of what we have come to believe and understand about brands is what helped us shape this study to its current form.
To put simply, the term Brand is the manifestation of an idea that encompasses all its physical and non-physical attributes in one single concept. To elaborate, it is a complex memetic system (an ‘idea’ information packet equivalent of the analogous to a genetic information packet) that is dynamic and evolves even as it engages with the environment resulting in physical, psychological, experiential, transactional, ethical, metaphysical, social and cultural experiences.
Imagine an idea to have a soul – this is the brand (the term idea encompasses the idea itself and everything that generates from the idea). The experience could be tactile, vicarious, or imagined – the sum total of these responses would be encompassed in the concept called brand.
If the brand is the soul, we could question the meaning behind its existence. Conceptually speaking, a brand only exists to create and maintain the primary bond of trust with all those who engage with it. Everything else results from this bond of trust. In businesses (or what could be called transactable ideas) the only reason a brand exists is to build a trust-bond with its stakeholders. Since every action and communication of a business has the potential to directly impact the soul we call brand, every business step must be weighed carefully to understand what result it will produce on its brand.
To consider the meaning more materially, without a brand, the idea (which encompasses everything from just the idea, a product, service or an entity) may exist, but it remains inanimate and lifeless. Using the same soul analogy, an idea without a brand cannot communicate or engage with others. Most importantly, however, is the fact that no idea can evolve and grow without a soul.