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Brand: The human element…

By Dan Pinkney  4 minute read

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Another #throwbackthursday article revisiting a post on my personal blog from almost five years back (September 2014). Perhaps still relevant today…

The majority of people recognise brand as simply the logo and/or name of a business, and in fact the standard definitions only serve to perpetuate this image. As we see on Wikipedia

Wikipedia

“Brand is the “name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s product distinct from those of other sellers.” Brands are used in business, marketing, and advertising.”

And while this certainly is a huge part of it, it doesn’t tell the whole story. Brand has become a far more holistic, personal interpretation of a company… that is to say, it is far more than a company’s name, trademark or the products and services it provides. As David Ogilvy (of Ogilvy and Mather) said, it is “the intangible sum of a product’s attributes.”

Brand is effectively the perception and emotional response a person has when hearing or seeing a brand name. And as such, it is different for all of us. This personal idea of brand therefore, is not exclusive to businesses and organisations, but becomes synonymous with each and every one of us as individuals.

This idea of brand from a human perspective was further highlighted when someone recently got in touch and complimented me on my ‘personal brand’ after seeing my then blog and Twitter page. And this got me thinking… How does brand traverse the lines between the traditional corporate world and us as individuals? Are we becoming individual brands in our own right? Are our personal brands (to paraphrase David Ogilvy) “the intangible sum of a person’s attributes.”? Are corporates becoming more human or humans becoming more corporate, or, as I suspect… both?

Each and every one of us projects an image to the outside world in a myriad of ways… whether we intend to or not. By expressing ourselves through the way we dress, our personal style, the tattoos we adorn, expression of language, personality, character and the way we present ourselves on social media – all are ways we (often unconsciously) sell ourselves to the outside world. In much the same way as brand names sell themselves through advertising, marketing, straplines and who they sponsor and partner with.

And just as business brands create a perception and emotional response in others, so do we as individuals. What’s more, as with brands, this perception and emotional response differs for everyone we meet, as everyone has different values, beliefs, biases and judgements… whether they be right or wrong (although that is a whole other topic in itself!).

The lines between corporate and personal brands are fast becoming blurred, and this is apparent with certain marketing strategies becoming more commonplace. Corporate businesses are adopting a more human and personal approach – relating and interacting more directly with individuals. This turnaround has undoubtedly been influenced by the rise in social media and the power that it has afforded to individuals as a whole. They have a far bigger voice and corporate businesses are increasingly aware of this.

We have heard of B2C (Business to Consumer), where businesses have a strategy of marketing and promoting their services to a customer. However, due to the changing dynamics between business and consumer, this is being replaced by something called H2H (Human to Human). And by that reckoning, B2B (Business to Business) will also be replaced with H2H. Corporates really are becoming more ‘human’.

One thing for sure – just as corporate brands are ever changing and dynamic, so are our personal brands. Everyone, and everything it seems, is in a constant state of growth, flux and development…

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Heraclitus of Ephesus

“The only constant is change.”