100 Marketing Experts Walk Into A Definition.
What do you get if you ask one hundred experts to define branding?
You get talk of manipulation, myth building and ratios (whatever that means), you get ego-massaging bios that are often longer than the buzzword-laden answers and you get an overwhelming sense of despair at the state of marketing. But, there are exceptions.
James Heaton rightly says that "A brand is whatever your consumers have in their minds about you" while Lee Cockerell's "Branding is simply the reputation of a product, person or organization" and Noah Briar's "Brand is the sum-total of interactions a person has with a company's products, people, and communications" are similarly on the money.
Interestingly, most of the respondents choose to answer a different question (how unlike marketers) and try to define the word brand rather than branding. They duck the implicit question of whether you can actively brand something in a meaningful way and Joe Rospars gets close to that when he asserts that "At worst, it's the communications equivalent of searing an ironclad message into the hide of your unwilling audience."
As I have often written here, the mark on a cow is simply possessive and skin-deep and is no reflection of its DNA. To think otherwise is delusional and, apparently, quite common.