A brand is a bond between people.

I have always had trouble with the word "brand". It sticks in my throat. It feels too cold, too commercial, too manipulative. "Brand" smells of meetings, powerpoint presentations and sales targets. It is a word that feels too smarmy for the nuanced concept that I have come to understand it to mean.

The oft cited origin story rubbed me the wrong way too: burning a brand in to the hide of one's live property, the cattle — there is nothing to be nostalgic about there. Who wants to invoke a top down, one-way communication model of yester-year that treats the consumer like cattle to be milked, owned, and targeted?

We all want to feel bonded

I recently attended The Art of Marketing conference here in Vancouver. I was left inspired, with my thoughts churning. There was a pretty consistent message coming from all the speakers. In a nutshell, this is how I interpreted it:

People want to feel bonded with other people. We bond through stories, generosity, candor and shared experience. This leads to trust, gratitude and delight. When we feel bonded, we are healthier, happier, and freer to be our best, bravest selves.

Can you imagine what would improve if we all were healthier, happier and being our best, bravest selves?

Only everything.

What is a brand?

The concept of “brand” has evolved a long way from when it was simply a symbol burned into the hide of a cow. A brand marked ownership. Now, we are surrounded with a different type of brand altogether: IBM, Starbucks, Jones Soda, MEC, Nike, Manulife, The David Suzuki Foundation, Apple — these are recognized brands that represent organizations, products or services.

But what exactly is a brand?

Brand Your Thing

As an ambitious person, you probably have “Your Thing”. It’s the Thing that you are passionate about, that you believe in, and have committed your energy and work to: it could be your product, practice, business, cause, service or organization. Your Thing.

You want Your Thing to be its most successful self. Your Thing will benefit from you turning your attention to the concept of “branding”.

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