I've read countless books about brands. And I've sat through—and given—as many lectures on the overused (and often misused) term.
Few come close to capturing the real meaning of "brand" as this brilliant two-minute film by VSA Partners and IBM's Jon Iwata.
Brands, of course, are not the things we say. They are sum of the things we do. Or as Iwata eloquently narrates in the short film:
"We don't try to manage the IBM brand; we try to manage our character as a business."
Further: "We've never defined IBM by what we're selling."
Iwata spoke to one of my classes at Columbia a few years ago where he shared research that direct contact with IBM's people has the greatest impact on how the company's brand is perceived. Least impact: PR and advertising.
I can support that point of view: It's because of people like Jon Iwata that I hold IBM and its brand in such high regard.