August 25, 2019

A quick brand analogy

We get asked quite a bit at MadeKnown what a brand is, and invariably we describe it the same way; a brand is formed from a relationship.

This more often than not is somewhat difficult for people to understand, eliciting comments such as “but my brand is my product or business?” or “my brand is my logo”. To which we answer, no and hell no respectively.

If someone tells you they ‘do branding’ and then proceed to show you loads of logos, politely excuse yourself and then simply exit the building.

A brand is formed, moulded and ever changing through the interactions and relationships it has with its customers. An easy way towards understanding this completely is to describe it with an analogy.


“A brand is like a person, or more rightly a friendship between people.”

You’ll likely agree that your idea or perception about who someone is, is formed from experience and affected and changed over time.

For example, you may form an opinion about someone when you first meet them. By how they look, their hair, their makeup, their style of clothes, their mannerisms, their physique, the car they drive and the music they listen to. This is their logo, a representation of who they believe they are and how they would like to be perceived. This image in itself has been formed, influenced and changed over time.

If you get a bad haircut or choose a new style of clothes, your friends soon let you know if it is right or wrong for you (or for who they believe you to be) and you may then make changes based on their opinions.

With this, we get closer to what a brand is.

You are obviously not only the sum of the clothes you wear, your haircut or your car… well, hopefully not anyway. Our perception of someone also comes from their personality, the things they do, they way they act, their culture, their values and beliefs, their morals and standards. From how they help old people to cross the street or to how they may steal candy from babies.

You can be the best of friends with someone and then one day they do something bad or wrong, and your perception of them changes. If they value your friendship they may take steps to redeem themselves, working to change your opinion of them.

Friendships are formed and made stronger or weaker through shared experiences, this works exactly the same for brands.  Which leads us to something very powerful.

A company can rarely dictate what their brand is, they can only influence it. Just as someone telling you they are your friend does not necessarily make it so, they need to earn the right, a brand needs to work to become positive in its consumer’s mind.

If someone is seen as being a good person it is usually because they have actually done good things, rather than simply by saying they have.

Like one of your friends, a brand is a perception you form about a business or product over time, purely from personal experience. This perception can ultimately only be changed through actions.

Although using how we develop friends is a great way to illustrate how brands develop, the role of people in actual brands is also incredibly strong.

To describe this simply, how many times have you been served in a store by a grumpy or non-helpful worker and thought, “I won’t shop here again”?

This is branding.

Trent Siddharta

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