This is a question that we get asked a lot more than you might think. For some the answer is obvious, for others it seems like some kind of foreign language.
Unfortunately adding to the confusion is the fact that there are as many answers to the question floating around as there are organizations claiming to provide it.
Here is some food for thought that will hopefully illuminate it's importancy or at least clarify the terminology.
The American Marketing Association defines Brand and Branding this way:
“A brand is a customer experience represented by a collection of images and
ideas often, it refers to a symbol such as a name, logo, slogan, and design scheme.
Brand recognition and other reactions are created by the accumulation of experiences with the specific product or services both dirctly relating to its use, and through the influences of advertising, design and media commentary."
As a result, you always know a "Brand" when you see it.
For example: Kleenex is a brand even though there are many varieties of facial tissues.
Or, to look at it another way, as Hubspot puts it: "A couple of hamburger patties and a slice of cheese on a bun are just that. But, add special sauce and it becomes a Big Mac!