Definition of 'Brand' Continues to Evolve in the Marketing Sphere

ISO Puts Focus on Brand as Intangible Asset

Common Language Marketing Dictionary

While it is arguably the most important term in marketing today, entering the word “brand” into a search engine results in many differing definitions. MASB, the Marketing Accountability Standards Board, needed the most accurate and useful definition for inclusion in the Common Language Marketing Dictionary.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines “brand” (in part) as: a type of product manufactured by a particular company under a particular name; a brand name; a particular identity or image regarded as an asset.

Although branding was historically a concept that was mainly relevant to commercial undertakings, that has changed.

Paul Farris, Landmark Communications Professor of Business Administration, University of Virginia

Merriam-Webster’s business definition for “brand” is more limited in scope: a class of goods identified by name as the product of a single firm or manufacturer.

“Although branding was historically a concept that was mainly relevant to commercial undertakings, that has changed,” explains Paul Farris, Landmark Communications Professor of Business Administration at the University of Virginia, Darden School of Business.

“For the last few years, many non-commercial entities – political parties, universities, persons and even churches and countries – now write or speak about the nature and value of their ‘brand.’ Most of these references seem aimed at describing how the entities are or wish to be perceived by their target audiences.”

Looking for an appropriate business orientation, the Common Language Marketing Dictionary previously featured “brand” as originally defined by the American Marketing Association (AMA): a name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers.

All of these definitions focus on the physical aspect of brands rather than the intangible characteristics that give brands their value, a critical omission that has been addressed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

In consideration of recently issued ISO brand standards, the Common Language Marketing Dictionary has amended its original definition with the following passage:

ISO brand standards add that a brand “is an intangible asset” that is intended to create “distinctive images and associations in the minds of stakeholders, thereby generating economic benefit/values.”

With significant work on brand valuation and brand evaluation still to come, it’s quite likely that the definition of “brand” will continue to evolve.

The Common Language Marketing Dictionary ( is a free, educational resource sponsored by the Marketing Accountability Standards Board, Association of National Advertisers, American Marketing Association, Interactive Advertising Bureau and Marketing Science Institute. Users are encouraged to comment on existing definitions and propose new terms.

Source: Marketing Accountability Standards Board (MASB)

About Marketing Accountability Standards Board (MASB)

The Marketing Accountability Standards Board brings visionary marketers, academics and measurement providers together to establish and advance accountable marketing practices that elevate CMOs by driving brand and business growth through linking marketing activities to financial outcomes.

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