for investors:

A vehicle for enhancing profit.

for consumers:

A road sign, a friend, a dream or means to self-realization.

for companies:

An invaluable asset, premium value in the market place, a meaningful way to look at a complex system called a global business.

A Brand is a set of associations around a name, symbol or other key elements that distinguishes a certain product or company. A brand is one of the ways by which we charter our course through daily life: the meanings that brands hold and convey are markers and identifiers.

A man with the New York Times folded under his arm, is probably a liberal minded intellectual, who either lives in New York, or has a positive attitude towards all that New York stands for. Someone who drives a Volvo is most likely a corporate guy, a family man, who appreciates the safety concept and the practical, yet up-market status of the brand.

Because brands hold meaning, they can charge extra. They provide the product and the meaning. With the obvious exception of brands that were built around 'economy': K-Mart is a brand, which signals 'value for money'.

The meaning that brands have, is their strength. Meaning creates bonds and thus loyalty, with customers, with employees an even with investors. One is more likely to forgive Evian or Perrier for a product callback than brand X. Conclusively, powerful brands convey meaning, they produce meaningful experiences, and they make money for their owners.