Who Defines the Brand?

by Craig Johnson    February 20, 2013

Who defines the brand? The company or the customer? Well...it depends.

When it comes to defining a brand, the question of “Who defines the brand?” often arises.  The answer depends on from which direction you are looking at the question:

  • Do you want to know what your brand is today?
  • Or are you trying to define what you want it to be in the future?

If you are trying to decide what your brand is today, then your customers and other stakeholders (employees, industry experts, etc) will be the ones answering that question.  At Matchstic, we define a brand as your reputation.  Your reputation today lies outside of your control and in the hands of everyone around you whose collective views define it for you.

If you are trying to define what you want your brand to be in the future, that must come from within the leadership of an organization.  The leadership sets the vision and the brand must always fall in line with the vision of the future and ultimately the business plan.  That future brand (reputation) may take some time before it is actually realized, but that’s okay – Rome wasn’t built in a day.

I’ve often seen these two views get confused.  The CEO thinks “I know what my brand is today” and he whips out some over-processed mission statement that even he couldn’t remember if it wasn’t on a frame in his office.  And on the flipside I’ve witnessed organizations place too much weight on customer perceptions and allowed those external opinions to drive the company’s vision for the future of the brand.

Who you want to be in the future always should come from within, not from without.  The opposite is also true, what your reputation (brand) is today always comes from outside of you. Mixing the two views up will be detrimental to your brand.

2 thoughts on “Who Defines the Brand?”

  1. So many times when people talk about this, they only talk about one side of the coin. You did great talking about both. It’s equally important that a brand’s future isn’t dictated by perceptions and focus groups. Committees suck at being remarkable. Brilliant post, Craig!

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