What Is (Not) a Brand?
#8 Sergio Zyman

Published by Jan Knap, M.D. on September 15, 2020.

In Under the Nanoscope: What Is (Not) a Brand? series, we select one definition of a brand from a well respected source and examine it under our nanoscope.

The Statement

A brand is essentially a container for a customer’s complete experience with the product or company.

— Source: The End of Advertising As We Know It book by Sergio Zyman (2002)

The Facts

Argument #1: Define a Container

This is not a definition. It’s just an attempt to distract you seriously asking what a brand is by simply describing it as a container.

Argument #2: Logically Incoherent

What does the term complete experience really mean here? Let’s break it down. Start with the word complete: How is it defined here? What does it qualify as complete? We continue the same exercise with the term experience. What do they mean by experience? Which criteria should we used to qualify this experience as true but that experience as false? Well, we have clearly no idea how to select. It’s evident that this part of a statement: “A brand is essentially a container for a customer complete experience...” is contradicting itself in so many ways it cannot be considered logically coherent.


This is not a definition of a brand. It looks more like a high school essay in creative writing. But hypothetically: If a brand were really a container, then brands would be easily mass—produced in any size, shape or colour and we should not worry about a brand definition any more. This is not actually happening.

If anybody puts into one sentence random words like container, customer, complete, experience, product or company and just adds a brand on the top of it, it surprisingly still looks like a sentence making perfect sense, right?

Well, it does not.

Under the Nanoscope Series
What Is (Not) a Brand?

We focus on finding answers to the deepest questions in branding to separate beliefs from fact by science.