The American Marketing Association formulated one of the first definitions of ‘brand’: “a name, term, drawing, symbol or any other sign indentifying the good or the service of a seller and helping distinguishing it from others’ “.

Years later, D. Aaker gives a similar definition: “the brand corresponds to the identity of a specific product, service or business”.

The topic received large constributions both from academic and communications environments; communication professionals started from the brand as the identification of a system of offer to get to the gradual definition of the contents of the brand, an offer system, have gradually defined the contents of a brand spliting them between tangible and intangible.

The French researcher J.N. Kapferer states:”…if a product brings a specific benefit, the brand adds further value”; the brand is therefore an intangible added-value which sum up to the tangible features of the product.

According to the American pioneer of branding W. Landor, the brand is “the sum of the tangible and intangible features that make an offering unique”. He believes  the brand is simply the promise of an exclusive benefit to consumers, supported by rational and emotional elements.

Ever since, the definitions of brand have more and more highlighted the symbolic content of the product, rather than the functional. To a greater extent than America researchers, European ones underlined the brand’s role as a sense engine. Kapferer has highlighted how, beyond the traditional role of identification for the product’s origin, the brand acts as a warranty in guaranteeing the continuity of the level of quality which is offered. According to the Italian academic Semprini the nature of the brand is a sort of “semiotic engine” able to give birth to “possible worlds”. This brand peculiarity turns out to be strongly helpful in the symbol-intensive segment where the brand acquires a conversational, collective, social and public value.

The use of the “lifestyle” concept brings back to Thorstein Veblen’s writing “The Theory of the Leisure Class” (1899) and to Max Weber’s studies on the status concept. The term “lifestyle” has been widely used and spread by Alfred Adler, the Austrian phisician who founded the individual psychology school. Adler states that every individual has his own, unique, lifestyle which allows him to live and interpret world.

Today the term “lifestyle” suggests a model to which people associate schemes of relationship, behavior and consumption.

In this sense, the easiest definition of lifestyle for management is still the one given in the ’70s by the American Marketing Association: lifestyle, and therefore consumption behaviours, mirror the attitudes, the interests and the opinion of the individual.

Advertisements