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What is a brand?

A blog on branding should start by defining what a brand is.

Admittedly there are numerous definitions of brand out there.
  • The classic (or legal) view is that a brand is
    "A name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller's good or service as distinct from those of other sellers. The legal term for brand is trademark. A brand may identify one item, a family of items, or all items of that seller."
  • My view is that a brand is also an image held in the mind. Therefore, I go with this aspect of the definition, from Wikipedia:
    "A brand is a symbolic embodiment of all the information connected to the product and serves to create associations and expectations around it."
Key takeaway: It is important to develop and protect the name/logo/sound/etc. of one's product or service, but it is more important to develop and protect the associations that people have with that name.

What I am interested in is, how do people--including brand producers, brand consumers, and brand commentators--co-create this image that people hold in their minds?