Brand and trademark

If there is one blunder in marketing and branding literature to single out only, it is a misrepresentation ob brand.

Brand is generally understood as a logo of particular company, product or service. It is thus understood as a part of brand expression in visual language. Logo is even not a part of brands identity, visual identity. As much as my name is not part of my identity, but an expression of it, logo of a brand is not.

Fortunately there are more and more books about real branding issues on the market while not so long ago there were only few authors, Aaker among them, who took and explain brand as it is.

I have developed very basic heuristics about what brand is and about what is not. If something alive is being talked about, that could be brand; if not, that for sure was not brand. Brand is living whereas trademark is not. Logo is nothing but extension of trademark. The ecosystem of visual and other moments of truths of a brand is vast, but should not be confused with a brand. Vastness of trademark extensions might be comlicated, but never complex.

Brand is a meme complex, that lives on the substrate of brains and that enables repeating and repeatable neuron activities in such a way that a system of activities attributed to one brand is different to a system of another.

As such, meme complex “brand” produces its own phenotypes as emergencies.  These emergencies appear as artifacts, that are then perceived as moments of truth of that brand.

Brand is living as it replicates itself in a competition with other brands on the principles of evolution that are: longevity, fecundity and fidelity (Dawkins, S. Blackmore). We as humans do help brands to exist, after they are born, they pursue their own independent life, fuelled by their customers, alike to children. They need stronger support when young, but then suddenly they begin their independent life. More and more they are re-evolved in the brains of their customers.

There is only one distinction between brands and humans. Brands are not agents. They have their memetic code that is defines their phenotypes. That memetic code is then reproduced according to memetic evolutionary principles, but they lack agency property. Brands that have long lost their commercial value, like Shakespeare for instance, still live long after the agents behind die, but they are not agents on their own, like humans or animals for instance. They are pure viruses of the mind.

It follows then that you can prepare a “how to do it” recipe book for trademarks but not for brands. It follows that any title that promises easy solutions like:  three steps for successful branding, or nine rules for branding is not only misleading but a disgrace of 100.000 years of human evolution.


Andrej Drapal