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I've noticed that all too often "branding" seems to be a stand-in for "position," sans the intellectual rigor of such a serious strategic planning matter. This of course lets people into the strategic conversation who otherwise lack the capacity to think and function at that level. This isn't just irritating, its dangerous.

I agree with you, if we're talking about product, market position, logo, promotions, etc., lets call it such and leave the vague meaninglessness of the term "branding" behind.

Hi Russell,
The book you lended me- Brand New Brand Thinking- has an interesting chapter about this danger of using the "Brand metaphor" all the time.

For me, the most difficult thing here is that everyone else (including the clients) is so addicted to talking and thinking in terms of brands and branding that even if we specify OUR thinking and speech, it might be an one way dialogue.

Maybe the way to settle this is to keep the definition of brands simple: it's the sum of all our perceptions about the product/service, some emotional or tonality driven, some rational . That way we never separate the brand from the product/service and (to refernce your first post), make sure that the value is both in the image and the product itself (which is probably the only recipe for a truly sustainable brand anyway).

Business and marketing is all about finite, concrete things that can be measured and controlled. Brands (which I definitely do think ‘exist’) aren’t finite and concrete…but we still try and force them to conform. And that's where the problems start. Because the truth is that all brands are really are collections of ‘stuff’ that add up in our brains to make something meaningful (hopefully).

But just because they’re a bit woolly and nebulous, doesn’t mean they lack potency. Take memories (which I guess is all a brand is in same ways): they’re just a collection of things, impression, associations, happenings etc. joined together by electrical impulses between neurons. A memory has no concrete existence, but is there nonetheless, in a very real and powerful sense.

Or (corporate) culture. The theory of Emergence says you can’t define culture it just happens, born out of the interaction between the different agents in that culture.

Or countries. What is Britain? Clearly it exists, but not in any way that you can get all finite and concrete about: it’s a combination of geography, climate, history, culture, architecture, politics, art, people (alive and dead). And ‘Britain’ is changing all the time…but still Britain.

So brands exist, and are very important, you just can’t control them (hah- death to Brand Management!).

What’s that saying – watch the pennies and the pounds will watch themselves? I think brands are like that – watch the ingredients (the product, the service, the company, the comms etc.), and the brand will watch itself.

It’s meaning and power will emerge, like Venus rising, out of the aggregation of stuff. But try to manage the brand at a ‘brand’ level and you will fail because it doesn’t exist in that sense. Or something.

Bollocks does often flow after the use of the word brand. But that's a good reason why we should all go on using the word. In fact, we should use it as much as possible in every sentence to point where it becomes meaningless.

To quote Lenny Bruce completely out of context 'It's the suppression of the word that gives it the power, the violence and the viciousness'

But then again some people like talking bollocks what ever the words used

Do real people ever talk about brands in real life? They do seem to discuss liking products or not. I agree with a later post - they either like a product because they like what it is/what it does, or because of they like what it/others say about it. I suppose a brand is our (bad) erm for the opinion they have of it, or the the opinion we want them to have?

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