UX Magazine

Defining and Informing the Complex Field of User Experience (UX)
Article No. 42 April 4, 2006

Fuck. Love. Brand.

Few words in the English language are as versatile, as powerful, and as overused as these three.

These words form a new group; dictionaries of the future will speak of nouns, verbs, adjectives, and place-markers. And place-markers will be seen as the last bastion of the vocabulary-challenged. Let me give you an example of what I mean.

As the owner of a presentation company, I can’t begin to tell you the number of presos I’ve been subjected to where a VP of Marketing takes the stage and tells of the importance of the brand, and the staff’s role in building it.

Place-markers will be seen as the last bastion of the vocabulary challenged.

“You are the brand!” is the cry of the day, videos run, theme-songs play, experts motivate, and crowds dance with gay-abandon with their new found passion for the brand, and, of course… nothing changes.

Why? Well, my theory is that these marketers failed to understand the unholy trinity.

You see, “brand” is a word open to much interpretation, a corporate ID executive sees it as the face of the company they designed, HR sees it as the people, marketers see it as the marketing they create, and management thinks it’s the physical manifestation of the mission, vision, and values. This is the problem, in order to build “X”, all your builders need to first understand what “X” is.

And here’s the thing, it ain’t rocket science. Once we realize that the word “brand” is a place-marker, we simply need to find out what we’re replacing. That’s where the unholy trinity comes in.

Catholics believe that there is no difference between God The Father, God The Son, and God The Holy Spirit, to them there’s just God. God is all three, and all three are God, they call this the Holy Trinity.

Similarly in business we have, The (company name) Brand, The (company name) Culture, and the The (company name’s) Customer Experience. Yet all of these simply make up The Company. Like the religious reference above, they’re one and the same.

The word brand is a generic term that I believe should never be used in a non-generic sense. I don’t want people discussing the Missing Link brand (culture, or customer experience) for me, they should only ever be discussing Missing Link. Internally and externally, there is and should be no differentiation.

So marketers, stop telling your staff to “Live the brand!”, start telling them to “Live (your company name here)”. It’s a lot easier to understand, and you’re a lot more likely to get the reaction you desire.

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Comments

35
34

Nice articles, but I am not creplica handbags
replica bagslear about the point you mentioned about how to distinguish fake and real .

33
32

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31
36

I agree with the first two, but designers and marketers are deluding themselves if they think “brand” is a powerful word to most English speakers. It’s definitely overused in the field, though.

32
36

I think that the whole field spends a great deal of time deluding itself. I am a designer and response I get on work from the public is often a complete 180 from what a designer/marketer would give.

32
40

Lads, I think we’re all in agreement here, brand is used as a powerful word, but I think you can see from the tone above that I’m not crazy about the word.

Andrew, I totally agree, but I dont believe that this is limited to marketers, it’s the expert trap. Experts in any given field measure things using different criteria to their clients. Often their elevated sense of what’s right is what leads to them getting it wrong. I think there’s a post in this topic. Watch this space…!

36
37

Hi,

As someone who is receiving a company ‘branding’ it’s great to know I’m not alone in wondering what they want from it all!

As a side note, if you want a definition in google I recommend using define: brand rather than definition.

Assuming you know what’s best for clients?! There’s a million posts in that one, and I could pick examples from every hour of my day!

34
30

Brand is pure hype. Naomi Klein has said more than any marketer or designer.

If you believe in brands then the “veil” is completed.

32
32

Advertising is already fucked…
So Brand will be fucked…
as it was in the beginning…
amen…

36
36

I couldn’t agree more. Being one who is responsible for implementing our new “branding” here, I live this every day. No one gets it. Or, is it that they all get what was presented, which was nothing?

Excellent topic!

32
38

Perhaps the term ‘Brand’ needs its own Brand because as you mention, it means many things to many people. Most of the time its used by consultants bullshitting their way into a bigger pay cheque, and unfortunately very few people take the time to talk about brand with real tangible examples, which leave people to make up their own mind about what it really means.

Perhaps when people talk about culture, customer experience and brands they should try harder to give case studies and concrete examples demonstrating the good and bad of it which leave no room for misunderstanding and more importantly, no room for bullshit

32
35

Can someone please write an article on how to cut down on the massive knee-jerk reactions that companies have to solving traffic flow issues on their sites? this may not be the place to rant about this but today I’ve just had it! When will people see the bigger picture and realise a homepage isn’t MEANT to do everything. Where is the integrity in the UI anymore? Why can’t people launch products that don’t change week upon week because sudenly now you realise you need another ad or you need a bigger focus on brand new product X? What ever happened to proper reasearch before launching something? Whatever happened to letting users LIVE with a product instead of constantly upsetting them every time the wind blows and you feel like it? Has common sense completely gone out the window?

34
35

You wanna talk about Brand. Well crap like my above mentioned is why a lot of your brands are deteriorating. No wonder people feel no loyalty to brands when comapnies can’t even be loyal to themselves or their own ideas.

33
40

Looks like this article struck a chord with you Rita ;)

Unfortunately what you are describing is what happens when companies get too big and you get too many decision makers. What happens then is the guy with the biggest dick wins, rather than the person with the most researched and well thought out idea.

A company who’s corporate structure doesn’t allow the people who really know their stuff to function and perform properly, is doomed to ever shifting marketing strategies to fix the problems they created with their last crappy decision

26
35

When you’ve got an out of touch senior management head making decisions about what goes into products or what the interface looks like, you have problems. I’ve been confronted with this recently and I think you are quite correct Damian. Leave the people who have the know-how alone to do their work and to make the best decisions. WAY too many cooks in the kitchen. The broth was spoiled a long time ago.

34
30

Don’t forget the Brand is in its most natural environment in the FMCG sector, and when used in the correct manner, is a very powerful tool to help generally generic products create a relationship with a potential consumer/ purchaser.

In the FMCG sector there are lots of behind-the-scene structures and practices that have to occur before there is any effort placed into creating any tangible and publishable component of a Brand.

Brand is something that technology companies are going to have to learn to love as that kind of FMCG generic nature bleeds over to the technology sector with greater force. At the end of the day end-users/ consumers don’t really care about the technology involved to deliver something of use to them and the brand is the only thing they will remember. i.e. For public perception of the usefulness of your companies technology/ service see Brand.

34
28

Where did all the content go, eh?

40
33

Where did all the content go, eh?

31
34

Don’t forget the Brand is in its most natural environment in the FMCG sector, and when used in the correct manner, is a very powerful tool to help generally generic products create a relationship with a potential consumer/ purchaser.

In the FMCG sector there are lots of behind-the-scene structures and practices that have to occur before there is any effort placed into creating any tangible and publishable component of a Brand.

Brand is something that technology companies are going to have to learn to love as that kind of FMCG generic nature bleeds over to the technology sector with greater force. At the end of the day end-users/ consumers don’t really care about the technology involved to deliver something of use to them and the brand is the only thing they will remember. i.e. For public perception of the usefulness of your companies technology/ service see Brand.

37
30

When you’ve got an out of touch senior management head making decisions about what goes into products or what the interface looks like, you have problems. I’ve been confronted with this recently and I think you are quite correct Damian. Leave the people who have the know-how alone to do their work and to make the best decisions. WAY too many cooks in the kitchen. The broth was spoiled a long time ago.

38
35

Looks like this article struck a chord with you Rita ;)

Unfortunately what you are describing is what happens when companies get too big and you get too many decision makers. What happens then is the guy with the biggest dick wins, rather than the person with the most researched and well thought out idea.

A company who’s corporate structure doesn’t allow the people who really know their stuff to function and perform properly, is doomed to ever shifting marketing strategies to fix the problems they created with their last crappy decision

32
34

You wanna talk about Brand. Well crap like my above mentioned is why a lot of your brands are deteriorating. No wonder people feel no loyalty to brands when comapnies can’t even be loyal to themselves or their own ideas.

28
37

Can someone please write an article on how to cut down on the massive knee-jerk reactions that companies have to solving traffic flow issues on their sites? this may not be the place to rant about this but today I’ve just had it! When will people see the bigger picture and realise a homepage isn’t MEANT to do everything. Where is the integrity in the UI anymore? Why can’t people launch products that don’t change week upon week because sudenly now you realise you need another ad or you need a bigger focus on brand new product X? What ever happened to proper reasearch before launching something? Whatever happened to letting users LIVE with a product instead of constantly upsetting them every time the wind blows and you feel like it? Has common sense completely gone out the window?

30
29

Perhaps the term ‘Brand’ needs its own Brand because as you mention, it means many things to many people. Most of the time its used by consultants bullshitting their way into a bigger pay cheque, and unfortunately very few people take the time to talk about brand with real tangible examples, which leave people to make up their own mind about what it really means.

Perhaps when people talk about culture, customer experience and brands they should try harder to give case studies and concrete examples demonstrating the good and bad of it which leave no room for misunderstanding and more importantly, no room for bullshit

27
34

I couldn’t agree more. Being one who is responsible for implementing our new “branding” here, I live this every day. No one gets it. Or, is it that they all get what was presented, which was nothing?

Excellent topic!

36
33

Advertising is already fucked…
So Brand will be fucked…
as it was in the beginning…
amen…

33
36

Brand is pure hype. Naomi Klein has said more than any marketer or designer.

If you believe in brands then the “veil” is completed.

28
26

Hi,

As someone who is receiving a company ‘branding’ it’s great to know I’m not alone in wondering what they want from it all!

As a side note, if you want a definition in google I recommend using define: brand rather than definition.

Assuming you know what’s best for clients?! There’s a million posts in that one, and I could pick examples from every hour of my day!

38
35

Lads, I think we’re all in agreement here, brand is used as a powerful word, but I think you can see from the tone above that I’m not crazy about the word.

Andrew, I totally agree, but I dont believe that this is limited to marketers, it’s the expert trap. Experts in any given field measure things using different criteria to their clients. Often their elevated sense of what’s right is what leads to them getting it wrong. I think there’s a post in this topic. Watch this space…!

28
36

I think that the whole field spends a great deal of time deluding itself. I am a designer and response I get on work from the public is often a complete 180 from what a designer/marketer would give.

32
32

I agree with the first two, but designers and marketers are deluding themselves if they think “brand” is a powerful word to most English speakers. It’s definitely overused in the field, though.