What Is A Brand?

From The Outside, Looking In...

I am amazed at how many people misunderstand the role of a ’Branding Agency’.

We were interested to understand someone else’s interpretation of what a ‘brand’ is and what the word ‘brand’ and ‘branding’ ultimately means to them. We wanted this to be someone outside of our industry, so who better than to ask than my Mum.

I’m not actually sure, but the first thing that comes into my head is Heinz Baked Beans.

Why? I’m not sure about that either. I guess it just stands out in terms of that familiar colour blue and the odd words Beanz Meanz Heinz. It seems to have been around forever. They certainly never change the colour that’s for sure, but I digress, back to the brief and what is a brand?

Heinz Beans
Burberry Brand

It’s a name, I think. The word ‘brand’ to me is synonymous with style. I tend to see luxury like Burberry, Prada, Yves Saint Laurent when I say the word ‘brand’ out loud, but then it will be equally relevant to the lower end, less luxurious outlets – the 99p shop, Poundland, Primark – these too are all brands and all equally recognisable.

Do brands remain consistent like Heinz baked beans or do they change and develop? Do they need to? What is a brand for, to sell a product? Customer identification, familiarity, comfort. Maybe brand is all about a logo, an instantly recognisable image which promotes, and, if good, is memorable too? Maybe a brand is a distinctive name which is an immediate identifier?

I’m still grappling with this word ‘brand’ and thinking ‘brand new’. Is a brand always new to be effective and why do we use the phrase ‘brand new’ when surely ‘new’ would be sufficient.

We say ‘brand new shoes’ but the word ‘brand’ has nothing extra to add to the new shoes.


I heard the word ‘brand’ only recently in my local Robert Dyas store. I was handed a carrier bag with my purchases with the accompanying words from the assistant, ‘We’ve just been rebranded hence the colour of the bag’. She seemed a little dismissive, almost scathing of this recent process they had been put through. ‘Huge expense too’, she continued. So I gather from this that the purpose of branding is clearly to increase business and maybe to modernise what would appear to be something rather staid and conservative.

So, in conclusion, a ‘brand’ is a make or a name which can be creatively restructured and redefined for maximum impact. Who is the brand for – the owner or the customer? Is there always a positive outcome to branding or can it ever be negative? It’s not easy to define but then maybe that’s its purpose – to enable a clear definition of a product or business. Maybe it provides the opportunity for deconstruction leading to reconstruction?

Helen Davison

Senior Careers Advisor