Help us understand: just what is a “brand’?

Ruth Mortimer is Marketing Week’s associate editor and a prolific blogger. She won a PPA Award for her forthright and insightful columns on marketing.

We at Marketing Week always like to give a boost to good ideas. So when researcher Mark Avis asked us to help him find practising marketers to fill in a survey about “what both academics and marketing professionals think a brand is”, we said: why not?

After all, even after writing about marketing and brands for more years than I am prepared to admit, this fundamental question still comes up all the time. What is a brand? You only have to start speculating about brands and someone throws out this question, everyone starts arguing about it and the original discussion is forgotten.

I remember a few years ago having a very intense discussion with the inventor and entrepreneur James Dyson, who refused to call his business a brand. But every description he used to explain his business – its unique technology; the way a customer could rely on it because it bore the name Dyson; and what it stood for – all added up for me to one thing: a brand.

This just goes to show how even those people creating brilliant brands themselves disagree with others on exactly what the word means. There is clearly much more work to do in this area.

So please fill in Mark’s survey here and give him (and us) a hand to understand exactly how the concept of a “brand” is seen by both marketers and academics. We will aim to bring you the results when he has completed his study.

Thank you.

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