‘A Brand’ Imperative

Published by Jan Knap, M.D. on October 1, 2020.

Formal definitions of a brand usually reflect a very popular but simplistic view of leading brand agencies: people in branding believe that a brand is something that really exists because they can build that. They see brands from this perspective because it feels both intuitive and logical.

But what about people in general: how do they understand brands? Take this example: seeing an apple on your breakfast table makes you instantly think about your new iPhone you left in your charger. Is this how branding works? Connecting dots between different random things to trigger associations that sometimes make sense?


Yet, for your mother, seeing the same apples at the same time reminds her about apple pie she was supposed to bake yesterday, but she forgot. In the same situation she has apparently triggered completely different associations. Branding again? Maybe not—but how could you know for sure? It’s only your intuition that makes you feel that way, not evidence or facts.

Human understanding of reality comes in many different forms. Sometimes we learn about our world things that are completely out of sync. In that case, we intuitively ignore all that noise and process only coherent stories. In fact, human brain always looks for any patterns and then tries to make sense out of them.

However, this is not how brands work. Brands are not independent objects existing out there in real world, waiting for us to change them or to carve them out from nothing. It’s exactly the wrong perception, even we still intuitively long for it. That illusion shows the real power of human intuitive brain.

"Brands cannot be manufactured."

We believe that a brand is not something. Brands do not exist independently in the real world. It’s not something that anyone can produce per request. Brands cannot be manufactured—even people in branding actually think they do create or build brands.

It really does not matter what they think. How do we know that?

Because till now nobody ever touched a brand...