Michael shared his thought progression with me over email,
Q: What is a brand? Get literal, Mike.
A: OK. It is a mark you put on a cow.
Q: Why do you put the mark there?
A: So that people will know my cow from someone else’s cow.
Q: So, what is a brand?
A: …a mark of ownership?
Q: Yes! What kind of speech is brand?
Q: I said, what kind of speech is brand when used in business literature?
A: A metaphor…a figure of speech in which a word or phrase that ordinarily describes one thing is used to designate another thing.
Q: So, why do definitions of brand seem so inadequate to you?
A: …because they are defining the metaphor and not what the metaphor
represents. We should be defining what brand stands for.
Q: Yes, and what does brand represent?
A: Ownership. Branding isn’t about branding. It’s about ownership.
Q: Good. Now some final questions, how do human beings mark the things they own? And why is this such a natural instinct? And what do others learn about the owners by the marks? And how does this result in quality? How does this contribute to the recognition of the value the things marked? What kinds of ownership are there?
and my response to this was,
so… again, what is a brand?
Now, bringing the high level view down to monetizable earth,
If markets are conversations, brands are relationships
built by dialogue
No wonder we’re sick of mass media advertising which makes us feel unheard, helpless and fed up of being ignored and neglected, and want the warm fuzzies that the blogosphere gives us.
Remember good old whosis (smile) who said a Brand called You?
Ain’t that the truth, as they say back on the farm, and this applies to companies as well.
Whereupon, Michael’s response was,
"A brand is your relationship with another human being."
The brands of our emerging networked markets are relationships.
They are active, not passive.
They are dialogue not monologues (but old age corporations only know how to have monologues – this is their problem)
They are collaborative outcomes not the idea of the lone genesis.
They unite the fragmented.
One party can not "own" the relationship. It is jointly owned. And both parties must MARK it.