Brand or Product – What Is the Difference?
There are several differences between a brand and a product (or a service).
It’s important to understand that popular products can become brands unto themselves and brand names can be used to refer to products.
All is explained below ...
Companies Make Products and Consumers Make (or break) Brands
A product is made by a company and can be purchased by a consumer while brands are built through consumer perceptions, expectations, and experiences with all products or services under a brand umbrella.
For example, Nike. It's product is sports shoes. The "umbrella" brand is Nike and each product under it has its own more specific brand name to distinguish the various Nike-manufactured product lines from one another.
For example: Nike Air, NikeID, Nike SB and the most famous one Air Jordan.
Products Can Be Copied and Replaced but Brands Are Unique
A product can be copied by competitors at anytime. When Apple launched the iPad, it didn’t take long for competitors to come out with their own branded versions of a tablet device i.e. Amazon with their Kindle Fire.
However, the brand associated with each tablet device offers unique value based on the perceptions,
expectations, and emotions that consumers develop for those brands through previous experiences with them.
Similarly, a product can be replaced with a competitor’s product if consumers believe the two products offer the same features and benefits.
Products with low emotional involvement are typically easily replaced. For example, do you really care what brand of milk, cheese or bread you buy?
Products Can Become Obsolete but Brands Can Be Timeless
The best example is Tab Clear. Remember that? If you don't it was the clear drink Coca-Cola released back in the 90's. You know who Coca-Cola is though yeah? There you go!
Products Are Instantly Meaningful but Brands Become Meaningful over Time.
When you launch a new product, it’s easy to make that product instantly meaningful and useful to consumers because it serves a specific function for them. However, a brand is meaningless until consumers have a chance to experience it, build trust with it, and believe in it.
That’s why the 3 steps to brand building include consistency, persistence, and restraint. It takes time and effort to convince consumers to believe in your brand.
Consider Google as an example. When Google first hit the Internet scene it offered a simple product - a search engine.
That product was instantly meaningful to consumers because it helped them find information online quickly. However, the Google brand didn’t become meaningful to consumers until people had a chance to use the Google search engine product and see for themselves that it really was a better search engine than say Yahoo or Lycos. (What's Lycos right?)
Through those experiences, consumers began to trust that the Google brand could deliver faster and better information online. This has led to Google being the number one search engine online with their presence pretty much controlling, or some say policing, the internet.Today, when Google launches a new product, people are quick to try those products because they trust the google brand.