The incalculable value of a brand.

Brand. There are perhaps only a handful of terms in the design industry today that generate as much confusion as this word. Which is why basic definitions of it often begin by reminding audiences that a brand is far more than a logo.

But what exactly is it? If the word brand has historically been explained by what it is not, how do we define the word here for our audiences? What is a brand? And what should it be? The answer often depends heavily on audience and context. Is a brand an experience? A promise? A feeling? Well, yes, yes, and absolutely. It can be all of these things and so much more. A brand is a vast concept that defies narrow labeling. It’s no wonder people often struggle with the term. It’s hard to impose a limit around it.

Which is why we don’t attempt to do so. Define a brand however you wish. At Contrast, we believe that the impact of an effective brand for organizations is unparalleled. So, rather than try and wordsmith our definition of the word to death, at Contrast & Co. we focus on asking a different question. Well, two of them, actually:

First, what are you trying to accomplish as an organization? And second, how can the brand better help you achieve these things?

That’s it. If we had to distill our philosophy around brands down to two sentences, we’d probably start here. It is an approach entirely oriented around the idea of a brand as simply a tool an organization can use in order to achieve effective outcomes. An extremely powerful tool, but a tool nonetheless. And what exactly are those outcomes?

A brand in the beginning is delicate. It’s a fragile object. Little choices have huge implications. Protecting the brand at this stage is critical.

We focus on these fundamentals.

From a foundational perspective, a brand is a robust design and messaging framework that defines and shapes how an organization communicates its story to the world. It reflects a sense of purpose, introduces the unique ideals that guide an organization, and establishes the visual identity that most effectively reinforces the positioning.

From a marketing perspective, a brand helps organizations increase market awareness, recognition, and memorability. It helps companies stand out effectively in hugely saturated and competitive markets where companies are complex and differentiation is difficult.  

A brand can generate an emotional attachment that no marketing spreadsheet in the world can even come close to capturing. When done well, its value is incalculable.

From a messaging perspective, a brand helps an organization capture, articulate, and express its value propositions in clear and motivating ways. From boilerplate breakdowns to soundbites to complex strategic narratives, effective brands make it easy to communicate key ideas consistently across individuals, teams, organizations, and continents.

From a sales and business development perspective, a brand provides the necessary tools and assets in order for teams to engage effectively with their audiences. From technical pitch decks to playful leave-behinds, effective brands offer a number of flexible ways to systems and touchpoints that reach audiences wherever they happen to be.

From finding a purpose to developing six-pack abs, so many things today begin with a strong core. Branding is no different.

From a financial perspective, a brand helps increase the perception of value of an organization. Whether an industry-shaking startup seeking additional funding rounds or an industry powerhouse seeking acquisition, an effective brand can help make companies bigger, bolder, and more attractive to prospects, customers, recruits, and investors. Here’s a quick snapshot of a case where the brand did just that.

From a cultural perspective, a brand aligns employees and recruits. It helps define the mission, mindset, and operating values of an organization. It reinforces a sense of place and purpose, and, in an increasingly virtual working world, can offer a unifying presence across an organization.

From a consumer perspective, a brand captures and reflects the face and personality of an organization. Effective brands become a part of their identity. They become a reflection of the things they value.

And lastly, from an intangibles perspective, a brand can inspire intense passion, pride, and loyalty. It can generate a depth of emotional attachment that no marketing spreadsheet in the world can even come close to capturing.

We believe that an effective brand can do all of these things and more. When done well, the results are incalculable. So, that’s how we define the word brand here.

Over the next several months, we will continue down the road on this idea with a series we’re informally calling “The Power of a Brand.” We’re going to share more in-depth ideas that can help organizations understand and unleash the power and potential of their brands. We encourage you to stay tuned.

As always, reach out to us anytime. We’d love to hear from you.

Contrast & Co. is a boutique brand strategy, design, and digital studio driven to create the smartest and most effective brand experiences anywhere. We help organizations of all sizes define themselves and express their messages in ways that are unique, motivating, and powerful. From naming and identities to comprehensive brand guides, rollout strategies, and websites, we help our clients stand out and get noticed.

Contrast & Co. has been named to Adweek's Top 100 Fastest-Growing Agencies. We see it as our responsibility, and honor, to help our clients shine—so let's create some contrast together. Reach out to us at

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