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There are two definitions of the word “brand.” The most commonly used refers to an advertising campaign. Advertisers hope that “brand” messages will cause consumers to look at products in a new or different way, thus the phrases “branding campaign,” “rebranding” and the like. Think of this definition as top down — that is, business to consumer — because “branding” in this context is just another word for advertising.
The other definition of brand is determined by consumers, not businesses. A simple explanation would be to say “brand” is the sum of every interaction between the product/service and the consumer, including advertising. From these interactions, the consumer determines the brand and once defined, it becomes incredibly difficult to change because the “brand” reflects the reality of the consumer’s experience.
Brand matters because it is the only way consumers can navigate an increasingly complex, information overloaded world. Brand is a shorthand we all use every day. It is the reason we can see multiple commercials for a product, yet never even register the name.
When CNN launched in 1980 it had a unique and specific brand: 24-hour news on cable. That sounds good in 2022, but not so much at the time. Many television stations still signed off overnight in those days, so 24-hours sounded weird. Another negative was that cable was seen as a second-class service offering old movies and reruns, not the news. CNN was simply before its time.
Thus, CNN launched with much fanfare, but hardly any viewers,