What is a Brand?

What is a Brand? is a question that is asked out loud infrequently-but one that is often on people's minds. Here's the answer:

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What is a Brand? is a question that gets asked out loud infrequently — but one that I suspect is often on people’s minds, but they are too embarrassed to ask. So, I thought I’d take a few moments on this post to answer the unasked question.

What is a Brand?

There are lots of answers to this question, Wikipedia attempts to answer the question What is a Brand? with this statement:

brand is a “Name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers.” Branding began as a way to tell one person’s cattle from another by means of a hot iron stamp. A modern example of a brand is Coca Cola which belongs to the Coca-Cola Company.

what is a brand, what is branding, what is a brand
photo credit charliecurve via flickr

Branding is about creating an instant recognition in the consumer’s mind for your brand. It can be something as simple as a voice, a graphic, or a phrase. But while Wikipedia’s definition is partially accurate, it fails to fully communicate the answer to the question, What is a Brand? Because branding is more than just a name, term, design, or symbol there’s something more, an emotional component inherent in branding.

Consulting Daryl Travis, the author of Emotional BrandingWhat is a Brand, gets us a little closer to the answer to the question What is a Brand? “A brand isn’t a brand to you until it develops an emotional connection with you.” He’s right, at it’s heart, branding is about creating an emotional resonance with a brand — ideally a positive emotional resonance. (I’ve discussed positive emotional response to a brand before here.) A strong brand should invoke instant, favorable, emotion. Marty Neumeier, the author of  The Brand GapWhat is a Brand, goes on to explain that “A brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service, or company.” Now we’re getting closer to the real answer to the question, What is a Brand?

But there is still something more to a brand. Perhaps my favorite answer to the question What is a Brand? comes from Fred Burt of Siegel+Gale, who answered “A brand is a reason to choose.”

That’s it — it’s so simple, yet so complex.

What is a Brand?  A brand is a reason to choose.


That’s why branding is so important in marketing. Branding gives people a reason to choose…

  • to choose your product over your competition’s
  • to choose your business over the business down the street
  • to choose to invest themselves in your success

Your brand has the capacity to ensure your business’ success or lack thereof. So pay attention to it. Build it. And most of all, share the story every chance you get. That’s my answer to the question What is a Brand?

Now it’s your turn, What is a Brand? What does brand mean to you?


Tisha Oehmen

Tisha Oehmen is a professional brand strategist and a leader in the branding field. She was recently named a member of the Global Guru’s Top 30 Brand Gurus. She is also the co-founder of Oregon-based Paradux Media Group and the best-selling author of the book, Finding Brand: The Brand Book Tutorial.

Possessing expertise in both front- and back-office operations, Tisha conceptualizes, develops, and implements initiatives to foster brand effectiveness like no other. With over 15 years of experience in branding and marketing, Tisha has successfully led large financial institutions and health care companies down the path of renaming their business.

Where Tisha really shines is in the work that isn’t done. Sometimes a name change for a business isn’t in their best interest and after meeting with Tisha, they are able to find the true value and equity that has always been in their brand. Tisha has a special knack of being able to communicate the value so that the CEO/Business owner can see its luster and then with a little polishing, make it shine company wide.

Tisha is best known for developing long lasting branding campaigns that speak to the heart of the business, the brand, and the community. True brand, no matter how big or small, has longevity. Creating branding campaigns that have longevity, that have a laser-like focus, is where Tisha thrives.

Tisha received her M.B.A. from the University of Oregon, from where she also earned a B.A. in Political Science. She enjoyed a distinguished academic career punctuated by enthusiastic and successful participation in competitive speaking events, and holds numerous awards for her skill in public speaking. Tisha is widely recognized for her ability to capture an audience’s attention with her straightforward and engaging speaking style.

When not working, she enjoys golfing, baking, reading, and hiking with her partner, Mike, and their two dogs, Chloe and Jackson. She’s also an active member of Rotary International, the Chamber of Commerce, and is a very proud supporter of the Oregon Ducks. Tisha lives in Eagle Point, Oregon.

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