The Functions of a Brand: Occupying Time in a Customer’s Mind

03 Sep The Functions of a Brand

What are the functions of a brand?

“Branding adds spirit and a soul to what would otherwise be a robotic, automated, generic price-value proposition. If branding is ultimately about the creation of human meaning, it follows logically that it is the humans who must ultimately provide it.”
– Prof. David Aaker

While there are many big corporations, I can’t help but feel that there are too few big brands.

Global organizations all over the world still dream of being a brand for all the privileges and advantages that come with it.

It is unquestionable that such iconic brands as Vespa, Mini Cooper, Nespresso, Leica, or Harley Davidson have a very distinct character and a clear identity globally in the minds of consumers.

Why are so many large budget corporations spending millions of dollars on marketing and advertising but are still unable to become real brands?

And how does a brand become a brand? Is it because they invest more financial resources in marketing and advertising than global corporations? Is it so because they have better general managers?

The answer is no.

In fact, spending marketing and advertising dollars are insufficient to become a brand.

Remember: becoming a brand is way beyond having a success story. Not every famous name or big firm is a brand.

How do companies like Apple, BMW, and Nespresso have such high brand status, while other famous big corporations like Dell and Renault are unable to?

The Functions of a Brand: Occupying Time in a Customer’s Mind

There is a reason why companies such as Apple have high brand status, while other big corporations struggle to keep up

The Functions of a Brand Include Claiming Territory in Customer’s Mind

“Always remember: a brand is the most valuable piece of real estate in the world; a corner of someone’s mind.”
– Sir John Hegarty

The functions of a brand, along with the aim and goals of brand management, should not be about trying to get as much shelf space in the stores as possible or as much advertising space on TV as possible.

Brands should be occupying a customer’s mind in a meaningful way. As Walter Landor said, “Products are made in the factory, but brands are created in the mind.”

The Important Role of a Brand

Wise entrepreneurs think of long-term performance and building a brand over time. The brand is sometimes even more important than the organization because the brand is the reason the product is preferred over other competitors.

  • The brand is important because it allows higher pricing than usual.
  • If you don’t define your brand then others might define it for you.
  • Brand is a highly valued currency in most circles and segments. (professional, social, academic, cultural, etc.) Its power is generally accepted and valued for use in exchange for something.
  • Those that invest in their brand eventually go on the way that is future-proof and sometimes recession-proof.
  • Branding boosts the visibility of your work, which then reduces complexity and uncertainty about who you are and what you do in others’ eyes.

Here’s An Example

Have you ever had an experience when giving the name of a brand had an effect that opened doors, brought opportunities, increased your chances of achieving something, gave you privileges, etc.?

Think about the moment of networking. When you are meeting in a conference with someone.

It’s one thing when you say I am from the X company (which is not a small company but hasn’t built a brand over time)


When you say I am from the Harvard Business Review or I am a director at Patek Philippe. (You can learn more about how academic institutions build strong reputations here.)

The difference is in the impact. It rings a bell. It triggers something in the mind.

It carries prestige, implications, and possibilities with it. The point is that sometimes even a mere mention of the brand will bring you results.

Did you know that one of the primary reasons that the majority of startups fail in about five years is because of a lack of brand power?

My advice? Build a brand.

According to a study published in HBR: “Building and maintaining strong brands—ones that customers recognize and trust —remains one of the best ways to reduce business risk. The stock prices of companies with strong brands, such as Colgate-Palmolive and Johnson & Johnson, have held up better in recessions than those of large consumer product companies with less well-known brands.”

You can read more about the study here.

As Cameron Craig, a communications professional who did PR for Apple for ten years, said, your brand is your biggest asset.

And you have to protect it.

If you want to learn more about the functions of a brand, my new program, The Brand Marketing Booster, is a great program to get you started towards building your own powerful brand. My new book, the Guiding Purpose Strategy, also goes more into the functions of a brand and how to build one that is successful.

If you are interested in learning more about how to grow your brand, have a look at these articles as well:

Finding Your Brand Purpose
7 Steps to Positioning Your Brand for Success
The 5 Principles of Every Successful Brand