Reinventing Feldwick’s brand definition


Playing around with this, which is riffing on the old Paul Feldwick brand definition from the early nineties.

Part of the problem with being as smart as Feldwick is that people will keep using things you’ve written for a long time afterwards, no matter or not if it’s what you current believe. I’m using the quote to represent what the finest minds used to think about brands in a different age*.


*ha, now, I’ve phrased this clumsily, as Jeremy below has picked up on.  What I’m trying to say is that “A Brand Is A Collection Of Perceptions In The Mind Of The Consumer” is not meant to be representative of Paul Feldwick’s current views on what a brand is.  The point is Paul has moved on, but the quote hasn’t.  I’m using the quote to illustrate how brands were described in 1991.

I look forward to Paul singing on my doorstep though, I’ll stick the kettle on.


9 responses to “Reinventing Feldwick’s brand definition”

  1. “….in a different age” ?????
    Paul is still alive, still actively engaged in the debate and unless you put this right he’ll probably come and sing on your doorstep!

    1. john v willshire avatar
      john v willshire

      Hello Jeremy – clumsily phrased (the problem with blogging on a phone sometimes) – have updated above 🙂

  2. haha… I think Paul would enjoy the comment, anyhow and if he turns up send out the invite!
    On your’ previous page “old guys rule” has an interesting provenance, it first started in California (Hermosa beach?) when older surfers (i.e. my age) riding longboards felt the younger surfers knocking them off the waves on boogie boards were showing a lack of respect. The ‘Old Guys’ printed up a batch of baseball caps to remind the young ‘uns to show some respect.
    But you’re right about the positioning

    1. john v willshire avatar
      john v willshire

      That’s a great story about “Old Guys Rule” – had no idea, thanks for sharing. I was speaking to my parents and their friends about this last year – they’re so bored by modern companies and brands, they all treat them like they’re pensioners in 1950s rural Britain. Too many young, fad-obsessed marketing managers around.

  3. Sounds v. clever.

    Thing is, I understand what Paul was saying; sure it may be a pragmatic translation of mid C20 continental philosophy, but I can understand it, and so could a Brand Manager.

    You are _also_ v. clever; but if I repeated what you said there to someone, I think they’d either nod sagely without really listening, or they’d look at me like I was mad. Probably the latter.

    Also, I think you’ve MASSIVELY mistranslated “perceptions” as “words” which (in the minds of some) might call your entire thought process into question.

    1. john v willshire avatar
      john v willshire

      I often get that mad look from folk…

      No, seriously though, I know it’s not quite right yet (but good to test things out early). Really good point on ‘perceptions’ – I’ve translated the EFFECT that word has on people who manage brands; they want to turn ‘perceptions’ into words, pyramids, onions etc, as Martin Weigel covered so eloquently. “We want to be perceived as an innovative brand”.

      I reckon I’m trying to challenge that bit of ‘perception’. The sit back, passive, distanced interpretation. “What people think about us from a very long way away”.

      I don’t think ‘fingertips’ is necessarily right, but the spirit of it is around either tippy-tapping on devices, or working their way along shelves… wandering around the world, waiting to get involved where they choose to.

      Or something.

      1. If we buy into the idea of brands being consumer constructs as we do (I think) the issue -or indeed lack of issue- is with the word ‘perception’ as its meaning can be ambiguous.
        ‘Perceptions’ are more than observations “the ability to see, hear or become aware of something through the senses” although the word can mean that. If you took it this way the definition would need updating and I’d agree that we don’t construct brands purely on the basis of our ‘passive, distant’ observations of it.
        However Paul Feldwick wasn’t using it in this sense but was talking about a perceptions as “the way in which something becomes to be regarded, understood or interpreted” which can include our observations, experiences and interactions with a brand.
        What is true, as young John points out, is that our opportunity to interact with brands is far greater because of the internet and stuff, and that this is having an effect (for better or worse) on our perception of brands. But it doesn’t change the nature of brands, and to my mind Paul’s definition still stands. Even though the way we collect them may have changed (inc. experiences and interactions), brands still remain a collection of perceptions.

        1. Old Guys still rule?

  4. You probably aren’t looking to start a whole definition dogfight but I just wanted to comment that a big shift has been from the customer as a passive recipient of offers from brand ‘owners’ to a cultural environment where behaviours can be resourced and sponsored by brands who choose to name themselves (usually) or sometimes don’t when they support cultural movements from which they benefit. I think it fits your definition because the opportunities don’t necessarily have to be directly ‘offered’ by the brand concerned but I would be loth to think we had moved from the customer as perceiver of a series of brand impressions published by a brand owners to the customer as a participant in opportunities and behaviours programmed by the brand owner. Its still not about them. Its about us and whether the brand owner earns the right to contribute.