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Brand and branding. What and how.


The changing level of relevance and importance of a brand compared to product has been researched and written about many times the last couple of years. Some stating that the value of brands is becoming less important with new generations. Others stating that brands are unmistakably important. Let me first state that nearly every research or theory has a truth or relevance in it. Hold on, I emphasized the word ‘nearly’. Of course, there are people out there posting rubbish or theories based on shallow and minimal experience and knowledge. Hey, maybe you think this article is total rubbish in the end. Great! Now we are at the essence of absolutely everything. Perception.


Perception is the way we interpret things. Words, sentences, colours, smells, events, movement, products, design, energy etc. Every descriptive word. Perception is the translation/reflection of what we encounter to what we already know. Utilizing all receptors in our body. Reading the whole nervous system. Conscious and unconsciously. Agree? Nice! And do you agree that we are all unique individuals? So, I can’t have any clue what you are thinking and what you are relating to at this moment. If you are still reading. Or thinking where the hell is this going?


Almost reaching my point! First, we need to go through the second step of what happens when we perceive things. We instantly label it with associations. Associations like trust, safe, quality, durable, funny, ugly, high-tech, purpose, taste. With one purpose. Understanding what we perceive and know how to store it. Storing it in brain boxes: like, need, desire, useful, hate, dangerous, stupid. Go ahead, think of three products or brands you like. Or two you desire. And think of the labels you attached to these brands and products. See how it /we work?


This is how we are wired. How we learned to think. Think in associations. Linear thinking.


Back to where we started. Knowing and understanding that everything is about perception I adamantly do not agree with theories that state or predict that the relevance of a brand is becoming less important. Simply because of how we are wired. And… especially with the fact there is an enormous variety of products and brands at our disposal due to the internet. That is has become hard to judge the durability and quality of a product if you don’t know the brand. As long as there are inferior products en mass out there with good design. Plus as long as there are no (import)laws on production, quality, durability and sustainability. An unknown brand or brands less product/service can’t be stored in the trust box with a quality label.


Let’s try something. Picture white wireless air phones in the shape of pods? I am pretty sure you just visualised the Apple air-pods in you minds eye shortly followed by the Apple brand. Now let’s visualise an ad of non-apple air-pods looking pretty much the same as the apple ones. Costing half the price. I bet that when you encounter this ad in real life this will tick your trust brain box. Comparing them to the ‘original ones’ and labelling them fake, less good and most likely shoddy. Right?

But what if they looked like the ‘original ones’ and the make is a renowned brand. This most likely will trigger your curiosity and trigger a direct action. Or store it in the ‘desire box’. Now let’s take something more common. A bottle of water for instance. Imagine two bottles of water. One is an unknown brand to you. A simple design. You never tried it before. And now imagine a bottle of Perrier next to it. Which water will taste better in your mind? You actually don’t know because you never tasted the unknown brand. But you recognize the known brand and assume it is of a better quality. Ticking the like or trust box.


See how brands, labels, product names are deeply connected and influence decision making? And most importantly, believe that a brand image is uniquely developed on an individual level.


You can own a brand and its identity.

But not its image.

As you only have the ability to influence perception and not control it."


Entertain your audience (prospects, clients, end users) with your brand values and propositions. With entertainment I mean answering and fulfilling their needs and desires creatively. So that they attach the right labels and put you in the right brainbox. When you entertain you reach deeper and are able to influence perception.


Charles Hale

Brand & business accelerator

www.c-hale.com