Let's turn to the venerable Wikipedia for a quick definition:
"A brand is a collection of images and ideas representing an economic producer; more specifically, it refers to the concrete symbols such as a name, logo, slogan, and design scheme. Brand recognition and other reactions are created by the accumulation of experiences with the specific product or service, both directly relating to its use, and through the influence of advertising, design, and media commentary. A brand is a symbolic embodiment of all the information connected to a company, product or service."Note how the wiki article clearly states that a brand is an accumulation of experiences.
Any individual with a shred of knowledge and understanding in art and design is aware that an artist / designer cannot create a brand.
In our world of FLOSS, the meritocracy has created individuals that we, as a culture, trust in. With the distinct vacuum of personalities trained and focused on art and design issues, the meritocracy has given credence to notions and ideals spread by individuals without an analysis of the language and concepts perpetuated.
This has led to a good number of individuals in our community bandying terms such as branding around with the implied knowledge of formalized training in art and design. Sabdfl has been guilty of this -- often resulting in other people reusing the term in completely ill informed instances.
I'd cite Launchpad's logo legal news as a byproduct of this perpetuation of misinformation:
"The Launchpad Logo, previously unlicensed, is now licensed as “Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 2.0 UK: England & Wales”. “No Derivative” was chosen to preserve our branding integrity." -- Launchpad NewsYet again we are led to believe that the design of the logo is somehow branding. I would hazard a guess that locking down the artistic and design aspects of a FLOSS project might be more detrimental to Launchpad's 'branding' than the poorly kerned wordmark of their new logo.
Getting down to the essence of branding is no easy task. Many consider branding the sole creation of an artistic design team. While this is a critical component, all a design team can fundamentally achieve is the laying of a groundwork -- an arena -- for an audience to experience. The combined accumulation of experiences with a project creates the brand.
A solid analogous example of this might be to look to the automotive industry. Many car designers chase after critical terms for their given audiences. Luxury is one of those terms that many car manufacturers attempt to create with their brand experience. Consider the following listing:
- General Motors
Thus in the end, the notion of 'branding' yet again falls upon the audience. The company creates the playing field, the audience creates the brand.
I'll leave you with the very astute quote from the Logo Design Workbook:
"The identity is not a brand. The brand is the perception formed by the audience about a company, person, or idea. This perception is the culmination of logo, visuals, identity program, messages, products, and actions. A designer cannot 'make' a brand. Only the audience can do this. The designer forms the foundation of the message with with the logo and identity system. A logo is not a brand, unless it's on a cow."Perhaps the next time you hear a PHP script author-cum-art-director or bash-shell-wizard-cum-designer start flaunting branding and brand identity around, give it some serious thought.
Once again, thank you for reading. I am but the sum of your clicks.