An (emergent) working definition of “brand” with thousands of examples
Roger Ehrenberg's post "Brands: Authenticity and Pattern Recognition" comments on Doc Searls's "Brands are Bull" (which followed his "Brands are Boring") by pointing out that whether or not you believe that brands should make a difference, they do. Much of the contempt for the use of the word "brand" is based on poor definition of the term, or underlying concept. Or lack of consensus going in as to what people mean when they use the word. (Much like religious disagreements that arise when everyone assumes they are working from the same definition of the word "God".)
Maybe the branding of "brand" has some problems.
I like the way that Roger characterizes a brand as an "organizing principle", and a facilitator of "pattern recognition". This comes closer to me than "a brand is a conversation", which, though I get where that's coming from, doesn't capture its essence.
I think a brand is something that is simultaneously designed and emerges. I'm as interested in the latter, especially as it helps with the former. Brand as an emergent property of people forming and sharing their ideas of products, people, companies, etc. influences how people will ultimately relate to those products, people and companies. Organizing principles emerge, patterns are recognized out of a mass of information.
I've been considering a definition of "brand" that fits my own working model. But rather than just writing it out, I'll first give the world's largest corpus a chance to define it through emergence, with thousands of examples:
http://www.google.com/search?q=%22whenever+I+think+of%22+-you (with a few thousand more here.)
This is based on my (work in progress) personal definition:
A brand is
the representative projection of
the essential nature of
(companies | organizations | products | people | places)
in people's minds
that is achieved through intelligent design
or emerges through natural selection.
(Funny how the analogy once again arises.)