what is a brand by dan crask

What Is A Brand?

Dan Crask

Brand Consultant | Brand Strategist | Creator of Vibe, Tribe, & Why®

A friend and I had been talking about this new post-pandemic economy and how marketing is now distinct from branding.

The next day, out of nowhere, my friend texted me a simple question: What is a brand?

Usually, I would have a long answer, but texting forces pithiness. After a lot of thought and consideration, I arrived at what I believe a brand is:

Brand is the reputation of something you sell.

Ultimately, reputation is the foundation of Brand. If we trace back the roots of branding, it is the mark placed on livestock and other property to indicate belonging and quality.

“This is of this brand’s quality and ownership,” is what the seared brandmark told anyone.

Fast-forward 100+ years, and it’s the people who own the brand. Some would contend that those same people have the only final say in what a brand is.

I am not so quick to agree.

What people think of the brand is systemically vital. Yet the brand has a voice and much power in that conversation.

And to be clear: It is a conversation, not an edict from the customer.

Consider Apple’s unusual yet massive flop: that atrocious iPad ad in which all of the analog things we love and create with were forcibly crushed, leaving the iPad in the wake of the destruction.

Conceptually, some people could meet Apple where they were headed.

As a vehicle of brand voice, it misread the room.

People voiced their rightful criticisms of it, and if we believe that customers ultimately determine a brand’s identity, Apple is cooked.

This is why I say it’s a conversation.

Apple let the heat simmer for a few days, then owned its mistake. It agreed with the critics and naysayers.

Yet Apple also righted its brand by correcting the messaging. After it accepted the verbal lashing, people let it go, and Apple was once again the beloved brand, with iPad sales spiking to show the truth of this strategy.

This is why people love Apple.

This is why Brand is the reputation of something you sell.

“Something you sell” could be an ideology, service, or cause. It doesn’t need to be a product. This is the innate power of Brand.

Reputation is the core of a Brand because it’s the perfect mix of its presence (vibe), people (tribe), and purpose (why).

This is where I shamelessly promote Vibe, Tribe, & Why™, my framework for clarifying brands so that they can build their reputation and, by doing so, their brand.

want to apply this insight to your brand?

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