What’s In A Brand

According to Marty Neumeier, a brand is not:

  1. A Logo
  2. A Corporate Culture
  3. A Product

So what is it?

To really answer that question, I suggest picking up a copy of, “The Brand Gap”, but for now, I’d like to tackle a piece of that question with a lesson from Marty:

To begin building your brand, ask yourself three questions:

  1. Who are you?
  2. What do you do?
  3. Why does it matter?

What this concepts says isn’t new to many people, however, before reading “The Brand Gap” by author Marty Neumeier, I thought of these questions more as guidelines to building your business model rather than a concept in branding. Looking at it from this new perspective, I began to wonder how many companies would be unable to answer these questions as suggested by “The Brand Gap”. Since I couldn’t ask actual companies, I decided to ask consumers because, after all, it’s their opinion that really matter. Surprisingly, not one of my college peers could tell me a name of a company that they thought clearly answered all three questions. Wow.

After reading this book, my view on branding has been turned on its head. I will admit, I fell victim to the common misconception that branding had something to do with the logo and the the company name. However, it makes much more sense that a brand would be more about what people “feel” than just what they see. I always thought I liked Nike because of the bright colors and popular swoosh but Marty Neumeier is right; I like Nike because I’m part of the “tribe” of people who wear Nike, workout, play sports, and “Just do it”.

Nike Brand

Another brand that I’ve gravitated to is TOMS shoes. This company answers the question of, “Why it matters” by being a social enterprise where the products it sells help provide shoes for children in need around the world, glasses and eye-surgery for people without sight, and books for those who aren’t fortunate enough to have them. People talk about TOMS, they spread the story, because when they wear TOMS they are part of a “tribe” of people helping children and adults around the world and they feel so good about it they want everyone to know.

TOMS Brand


While it’s certainly easier to build a brand this way in a startup company that doesn’t mean that larger companies can’t change. If a company can’t answer the third question, then there’s something wrong and fixing it can only help their brand. It’s never too late to take a chance and make the change to a better, more focused brand. One of the reasons why I think most companies fail to answer “Why it matters” is because they haven’t ever been asked the question before. If everyone started with asking the questions, big corporations or two-person startups can all build their brand to fill, “The Brand Gap”.


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