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A brand is a product, service, or concept that is publicly distinguished from other products, services, or concepts so that it can be easily communicated and usually marketed. A brand name is the name of the distinctive product, service, or concept. Branding is the process of creating and disseminating the brand name. Branding can be applied to the entire corporate identity as well as to individual product and service names.
Brands are usually protected from use by others by securing a trademark or service mark from an authorized agency, usually a government agency. Before applying for a trademark or service mark, you need to establish that someone else hasn't already obtained one for your name. Although you can do the searching yourself, it is common to hire a law firm that specializes in doing trademark searches and managing the application process, which, in the United States, takes about a year. Once you've learned that no one else is using it, you can begin to use your brand name as a trademark simply by stating it is a trademark (using the "TM" where it first appears in a publication or Web site). After you receive the trademark, you can use the registered symbol after your trademark.
Brands are often expressed in the form of logos, graphic representations of the brand. In computers, a recent example of widespread brand application was the "Intel Inside" label provided to manufacturers that use Intel's microchips.
A company's brands and the public's awareness of them is often used as a factor in evaluating a company. Corporations sometimes hire market research firms to study public recognition of brand names as well as attitudes toward the brands.
Here is the famous advertising copywriter and ad agency founder David Ogilvy's definition of a brand:
The intangible sum of a product's attributes: its name, packaging, and price, its history, its reputation, and the way it's advertised.
See Morgan Spurlock's TED talk about brand marketing, The greatest TED talk ever sold: