What is Brand??

Personality, Presence and Performance: A brand needs to personify human attributes, be top of mind for customers and the product needs to satisfy the needs of the customer (Dayal, Landesberg, Zeisser, 2000).  The Tim Horton’s brand comes to life as the gathering place for the community. It takes on the personality traits of being warm, welcoming, predictable and reliable.  It develops presence, weaving itself into the fabric of a community by sponsoring programs like Timbits hockey and providing numerous physical locations.  Tim Horton’s performs because it consistently delivers on its promise of fresh coffee for a reasonable price.

Customer-centric: Going one step further, an organization’s brand is “a “customercentric” concept that focuses on what a product, service or company has promised to its customers and what that commitment means to them.” (Ettenson, & Knowles, p. 19, 2008)  Although Tim Horton’s is using personality, presence and performance to communicate its brand to customers, the value of the brand ultimately comes down to what a cup of coffee at Tim Horton’s means to each customer.  For customers that value quality for money, a Tim Horton’s coffee may be nothing more than a rational decision based on price.  For other customers that value community, a Tim Horton’s coffee may represent a predictably welcoming atmosphere in which to share some stories with friends.  Regardless of the reason for making the choice to have a Tim Horton’s coffee, it is the customer that makes the Tim Horton’s brand meaningful.

Identity and Loyalty: For customers to continuously choose the brand over time, requires it to become a “…unique value proposition expressed in a relevant and differentiated way such that it creates preference and loyalty among key audiences.” (Brown, Ettensen, & Hyer, p.61, 2011).   To create a group of customers consistently differentiating between products, brand managers must provide an experience, online or offline, in which an emotional connection is forged.   A successful brand transcends personality, presence, performance, values and differentiation to become an integral piece of the customers’ or constituents’ identity and self-concept (Johnson, Matear, & Thomson, 2011).  Choosing a Tim Horton’s coffee over a Starbuck’s coffee is a communication to others about that person’s values and identity.  Online, along with family photos and a log of weekly and daily activities, Facebook has a space for people to post logos from their favorite brands (Perkins, & Forehand, 2012) as an expression of their identity.

Brand is the Organization: Brand is “a collection of perceptions about an organization formed by its every communication, action and interaction.” (Daw, Cone, Erhard, Darigan-Merenda, p. 20, 2011).  A brand is represented in what the customer or constituent says, feels and thinks about the organization. (Daw, et. al., 2011).  The result is a composite image imprinted in the mind of the customer or constituent (Kylander, & Stone, 2012) representing the promise an organization is making through its brand.  However, building, maintaining, and communicating the image can be challenging.  Although BP Global has a warm, inviting logo, it is likely that people will more often associate it with unemployed shrimp fisherman and an oil-soaked coastline.   Think about the images that spring to mind when someone mentions Canadian Tire or the words that can be used to describe an experience involving Molson CanadianOf key importance for brand managers is determining what the image should be, how the image is created, who creates and impacts the image, and how to measure the value of the image. 


Supporting Articles:

The Role of Brand in the Nonprofit Sector

Don’t Confuse Reputation with Brand

Building Digital Brands

Why Every Project Needs A Brand



  1. Brown K.A., Ettensen, R. & Hyer, N. L.. (2011).  Why Every Project Needs a Brand (and How to Create One).  MITSloan Management Review, 52(4), 61-68. Retrieved from http://sloanreview.mit.edu/
  2. Daw, J., Cone, C., Erhard, A., Darigan-Merenda, K. (2011)  Breakthrough Nonprofit Branding:  Seven Principles to Power Extraordinary Results.  New Jersey:  John Wiley and Sons, Inc.
  3. Dayal, S., Landesberg, H., Zeisser, M. (2000). Building Digital Brands. The McKinsey Quarterly. Number 2 42-51 Retrieved from http://www.mckinseyquarterly.com/home.aspx
  4. Ettenson, R., & Knowles, J.. (2008). Don’t Confuse Reputation With Brand. MIT Sloan Management Review, 49(2), 19-21. Retrieved June 28, 2012, from ABI/INFORM Global. (Document ID: 1412442051).
  5. Johnson, A., Matear, M., & Thomson, M.. (2011). A Coal in the Heart: Self-Relevance as a Post-Exit Predictor of Consumer Anti-Brand Actions. Journal of Consumer Research, 38(1), 108.  Retrieved August 17, 2012, from ABI/INFORM Global. (Document ID: 2364066401).
  6. Kylander, N., & Stone, C.  (2012) The Role of Brand in the Nonprofit Sector.  Stanford Social Innovation Review.
  7. Perkins, A. W., & Forehand, M. R. (2012). Implicit Self-Referencing: The Effect of Nonvolitional Self-Association on Brand and Product Attitude. Journal Of Consumer Research, 39(1), 142-156. doi:10.1086/662069Ratnayake, N., Broderick, A. J., & Mitchell, R. C. (2010). A neurocognitive approach to brand memory. Journal Of Marketing Management, 26(13/14), 1295-1318. doi:10.1080/0267257X.2010.522531

About Darcy McDonald

Exploring the intersection between social innovation and evaluation.

One comment

  1. Erin

    Just further to Tim Horton’s “weaving its way into the community” the volunteer for a day program is kind of cool and I know that LINC Westmount has participated. This is an interesting way for immigrants to volunteer.

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