Let’s start with what a brand is not.

A brand is not your corporate name, logo, website or brochure. These are elements of your corporate identity, and they are ways you can help build a brand, but they are not the brand.

Also a brand is not a product. Marketing people often talk about their brands, but what they usually mean is managing their products, services, initiatives, distribution and quality.

To manage a brand is to manage something much less tangible: an aura, an invisible layer of meaning that surrounds the product or service.

So what exactly is a brand?

A brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service, or organisation.

It’s a gut feeling because we’re all emotional intuitive beings, despite our best efforts to be rational.

It’s a person’s gut feeling, because in the end the brand is defined by individuals, not by companies, markets or the so-called general public. While companies can’t control this process, they can influence it by communicating the qualities that make this service different than that service.

For example, if you look at Virgin Atlantic and United Airlines both offer similar priced flights to the US. Virgin uses an entertainment led approach whilst United Airlines focuses on safety and reliability.

When enough individuals arrive at the same gut feeling, an organisation can be said to have a brand. In other words, a brand is not what you say it is, it’s what they say it is.