Richard Huntington, Chief Strategy Officer of Saatchi & Saatchi, wrote a blog post titled What is a Brand? (May 7, 2022).

« A brand is simply the set of associations that sit inside people’s minds about a product or service, company or organisation. That’s it. »

« This is a really tricky idea and worth dwelling upon. When you see a logo, when you use a banking app, when you walk past a store, when you unbox a delivery, none of these are the brand. They are experiences that help create the brand in peoples’ minds. »

« But this is where practitioners get confused, conflating the indicators or contributors to a brand with the brand itself. And it’s also where the language of brand gets mangled and unhelpful. »

« The simplest way to think about a brand is to imagine asking someone to list everything they think or believe about your company or what it sells, to put it all down on a piece of paper. Whatever they write or draw, that is your brand as far as they are concerned. That list may be non-existent, a few words or reams and reams of paper. And what’s in that list may make you feel proud or upset, or usually a bit of both.  »

« But this is critical, brands live inside peoples’ minds. »

« In fact many businesses have brand strategies, brand identities and brand guidelines but no actual brand. Since as we have said a brand only exists if all those nice things they have written about in their brand book actually live in people’s minds. Think about it, all that energy and expense spent in design and ad agencies producing stuff for things that aren’t and have no brand. »

« In every category there are brands and non-brands. Non-brands being simply companies that operate with no particular resonanace or real estate inside people’s minds.   »

« Building and nurturing a brand is more like a shepherd herding a flock of sheep than anyone managing anything. The sheep are all those associations that live in people’s minds. Left to their own devices those sheep will wander all over the place and they usually do. Brand strategy is really about how you encourage the sheep to go in the direction that you want them to, with you as a shepherd and the things that you create for the brand acting as sheepdogs, moving all those lovely associations in the right direction and ultimately into the destination you want.   »

« If they recall a lot of stuff, good and bad you have a strong brand.
And if the good outweighs the bad then you have a healthy brand.  »

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