What Is A Brand?

Zach Vanasse | October 15, 2020

Welcome to our Bannikin Branding & Storytelling video series examining how you can make your brand work for you. In our first video in the series, our manager of creative & branding, Zach Vanasse, looks to answer two important questions:

  1. What is a brand?
  2. Why is now the time to put your brand to work for you?

We explore these ideas here because we have found there is often a misunderstanding in the travel industry around how a brand can work for your company, the value in firmly establishing your organization’s brand goals and how you can make your brand function practically. This limits a travel company’s ability to get the most out of their brand.

What Is a Brand?

When Bannikin hosts a branding workshop, we will always open with a group discussion around the central question; what is a brand?

The answers we most often hear are along the lines of “it’s the essence of what we do” and “it’s our company’s DNA” or “it’s a combination of our logo, our tagline, our experiences, our product.” While all accurate, these brand definitions miss a key idea about what a brand is. And that missing piece changes the way we look at brand entirely.

One individual who has put a lot of thought into how you can make your brand work for you is a designer, writer, brand strategist and creative thinker named Marty Neumeier. In his 2006 book ‘The Brand Gap,’ Neumeier defined a brand as:

… a person’s gut feeling about a product, service or company. It’s a GUT FEELING because we’re all emotional, intuitive beings, despite our best efforts to be rational. It’s a PERSON’S gut feeling, because in the end the brand is defined by individuals, not by companies, markets, or the so-called general public. Each person creates his or her own version of it. While companies can’t control this process, they can influence it by communicating the qualities that make this product different than that product. When enough individuals arrive at the same gut feeling, a company can be said to have a brand. In other words, a brand is not what YOU say it is. It’s what THEY say it is.

One more time: a brand is not what you say it is, it’s what they say it is.

This central idea is at the core of our approach to brand at Bannikin and this branding video series will be looking at effective ways you can start to make your perception of your travel brand align with what the general consumer thinks your brand is.

So, why now?

As of the writing of this post, we’re still in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. If you’re reading this on the other side, congratulations! We all look forward to seeing you there. But as we currently sit in the midst of this global pandemic, the entire travel industry is about to experience the closest thing to a reset we are likely to ever see.

This is because, in a post-pandemic world, consumers are going to be thinking about travel in a very different way than they did previously.  As the world of travel is reconstructed and people return to travel and tourism on the other side, they are naturally going to be reconsidering everything they encounter. So, the question travel brands should be asking is: How does my company want to re-introduce itself?

In a time where everybody is going to be re-introducing, what is it that you want to say about yourself? How do you want to position your brand to most effectively meet that moment?

The “how” is the main focus of our branding video series. Throughout the series we will be exploring how you can make your brand more effectively connect with and convert consumers as we look at:

  • What makes your brand?
  • Why storytelling matters
  • Why clear guidelines are important
  • Why the right tools matter
  • What is a brand triangle?
  • Why buyer personas are important
  • USP vs. UBS
  • Why your brand persona matters
  • How to find your brand voice
  • The value of workshops

Subscribe to the Bannikin Branding Newsletter to get the video series regularly delivered directly to your inbox, or follow along on our Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube channels.

Questions or comments about branding? Let’s chat!  E-mail Zach at zach@bannikin.com.