Are you saying “brand” right?

This article was originally published on Facebook.

If you’ve been paying attention to the marketing space, you probably hear one word very frequently.

Brand.

Everyone is talking about their brand. Focusing on building their brand. Working with brands. Branding their business. Brand. Brand. Brand. (Jan Brady voice inserted here.)

It’s a situation of where a word becomes so overly used by an industry that it joins the infamous category of buzzwords. A buzzword (accordingly to Wikipedia) is “a word or phrase that becomes very popular for a period of time.”

It’s that time. It’s very popular. Thus, brand being a buzzword.

However, that’s not the issue. The reality is that this word has become so buzz-worthy, it’s being used wrong in the context of conversation on a regular basis.

If you’ve attended a conference on marketing in your life, you’ve probably had a speaker ask the room “can anyone here define what a brand is?” Almost always someone in the audience will pipe up “what people say about you when you’re not in the room,” an answer credited to Jeff Bezos of Amazon.com.

But even when people know that’s the answer to the question, the word continues to be swapped into hyperbolic conversation in places it really shouldn’t.

“I’m working with brands who sell…”

“My brand colors are…”

“Their brand logo is…”

When a brand is literally defined by how someone feels about you, how is it possible to work with it? You actually mean you’re working with a corporation or person.

The colors are a scheme for design assets used by your corporation to assist in the delivery of messaging of its marketing.

And the logo? Well “logos” is greek for “word”. So that buzzword has played itself out inappropriately for a lot of reasons, but that’s a lesson for another day. In this case, you’re actually referring to your trademark in this situation. This is yet another thing you as the company or personality decide. Not what what branding truly is as the feeling people develop from interacting with you.

When you are managing your brand, you are truly strategizing the air people breathe, mindset they take and actions they feel compelled toward as a result of coming into contact with you. Think about that.

Your brand is the instinct people have when they feel a need. A need to know something. A need to share something. A need to have something. It could be anything. For you to be able to leave your mark on them, fueling that need, is a sign of real brand impact.

No matter if you’re Starbucks, Amy Schmittauer or a beagle, considering the audience and where they are in this moment so that you — the entity — can be relevant to them and thus have the luxury of developing a brand will no longer be questionable. It will become the only thing that matters.