Magazine article Marketing

Defining 'Brands' Helps Strengthen Our Own Identity

Magazine article Marketing

Defining 'Brands' Helps Strengthen Our Own Identity

Article excerpt

What is a brand? Most of us use this Middle English word dozens of times a day - and are confident we know what it means. But its meanings are changing.

Brands started out as hot irons that proved ownership - and trademarks aren't very different from hot-iron branding. But viewing brands as trademarks, while not wrong, is now too blinkered.

It is blinkered because it applies principally to goods - rather than services or institutions - and to packaged goods at that. The members of the British Brands Group, for example, include some 20 packaged goods heavy-hitters - among them Kellogg, Nestle, and Procter & Gamble (how come they call themselves the British Brands Group?) - but no car or consumer durables manufacturer, no media owner and no major retailer. To me that seems antediluvian. Brands are no longer just packaged goods. Brands are ubiquitous. That's what makes them so important. And so increasingly difficult to get our heads around.

Let's look at a few examples. The government says it wants to 're-brand' Britain; Labour's 1997 landslide was dubbed 'a triumph of branding'; the monarchy has hired researchers and spin-doctors to re-polish its brand image; people describe as brands everything from universities to religions, from symphony orchestras to soccer clubs; a recent survey revealed the public now has more faith in famous brands than in the church, the police, the monarchy, journalists and most other public institutions.

Some of the famous brands in this survey were packaged goods, some not. …

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