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What do we mean by Brand?

Sometimes, it’s helpful to start at the very beginning, even if you have a good idea of where you are headed, and what the journey might entail. This blog is not meant to patronise. If you already have a good handle on what brand means to you, this blog probably isn’t for you.

But if you are happy to jump down a brand rabbit hole with us for a minute or two, read on…

Beyond a logo

Today, it’s widely understood that a brand is more than a simple logo. And, if we can define what a brand is, we can begin to understand why some are so successful over others. This quote, from a former dot com entrepreneur offers our favourite definition:

“A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another”
Seth Godin

Our attention is caught by the word, choice. There is a lot in life we don’t get to choose. Our parents. Our genetics. The political system we are born into, but (says Professor Barry Schwartz, who wrote The Paradox of Choice) beyond that, lies choice. Choice is what enables us to tell the world who we are and what we care about. You can be a vegan and I can be a carnivore. You can listen to hip-hop and I can listen to podcasts. Brands play an essential role in helping us make choices, and shape our identity.

Find your tribe

The digital revolution is in full swing. Brand touchpoints are literally everywhere we look; consumers are exposed to up to 10,000 ads per day. In this noisy marketplace, how can we cut through consumer fatigue, connect and encourage them to actively choose your brand, over another?

At designdough, we believe this is where brand strategy comes in. This collaborative (and dynamic) document lays out our client’s raison d’etre. Purpose, values, mission, vision. We build a brand narrative – the core story; the beating heart and lifeblood of your organisation. It may change over time, but it must always be authentic. When we become storytellers, live and breathe our brand values, we connect with audiences, and build communities.

One of our favourite executions of value driven storytelling is an oldie, but a goodie. In 2011, Patagonia (outdoor clothing) published a full-page ad in the New York Times, appealing to customers not to buy their jacket on Black Friday. As an ethical and sustainable brand, they actively discourage mindless consumerism, supporting their customers in repairing and recycling Patagonia products. Their environmental advocacy is front and centre of all business operations, comms and products.

The advert was incredibly successful in generating awareness of the problem of fast fashion – and also led to a 30% increase in sales. Patagonia customers felt connected to the cause; wearing the brand allowed them to join the community, reflecting their social and environmental responsibility.

Brand impressions

Seth’s ‘set of expectations’ is also important to unpick. Every impression of your brand counts. It is not enough to delight your customers on Monday – this is a 24/7 job. And when brands do it well, it pays off. When a brand successfully meets a customer’s set of expectations, they will:

    59% of consumers are happy to pay more for a brand they trust (Edelman, 2019)
    57% will increase their spending with that brand (Sprout Social, 2018)
    78% will recommend the brand to others (Edelman, 2020)

Not just a logo, then. Brand is far more than your visual identity. It is why your customer chooses you, over someone else. It’s how you build your community, increase customer spend, and ensure your staff and customers are ambassadors.


Let’s hop back out of this rabbit hole with one final quote, from Steve Forbes, Editor-in-Chief of Forbes Magazine:

“Your brand is the single most important investment you can make in your business”
Steve Forbes