What is a Brand? Part 6
Posted by Giles Lury on October 14, 2010
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One of the most widely used traditional definitions of a brand is the “product plus” definition. It is based on a simple analysis of how many brands were actually developed – think Coca-Cola, think Kellogg’s Corn Flakes or indeed Sunlight Soap. It reflects a belief that a “brand” is something that is created around, and on top of, a product or service.
Put simply a brand is the sum of the product (or service) and the name values, functional and emotional attributes and the personality that are added to it via the packaging, advertising and brand experience.
A modern and deliberately provocative alternative stands this definition on its head and suggests rather than starting with a product or service a brand can be defined by a set of values, attributes and personality which can then be applied to almost any product or service category.
Think Virgin, think Easy… and maybe even Apple as potential archetypes of this new approach.
As I said this is a deliberately provocative definition because the “brand” only becomes a brand when it is actually applied to its first product or service.
Perhaps a more realistic interpretation of this definition which reflects how increasingly brands are no longer tied to a single product or services but are extended over a variety of categories and markets, is the combine the traditional approach and the alternative approach, as below….
This reflects the reality of many modern brands which started life as a single product, service or even maybe as a range in one category, but once they have established a clear brand equity (of values, attributes and personality) the brand and its equity is leveraged to extend into new markets.
Think Lego which started life as a humble range of plastic bricks but “built” up its brand as something that stood for “creative constructive /educational play” and has since stretched that brand into electronic games and theme parks amongst other things. Or Marlboro which built its brand on cigarettes imbued with a masculine pioneering spirit and has stretched the brand into rugged clothing and adventure holidays.
All of which starts to suggest either that a brand can be defined separate of any product or service – or at least its ‘equity’ can be.