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April 15, 2010

Brand vs Commodity

Recently on Linkedin in the Brand and Communication Management Group there was a lively discussion. By lively I mean 15 pages representing 265 comments. There was some incredible thinking. You should do yourself a favour and check out this group.

I thought it would be interesting to port this over to One Degree and see what you think?

The question was posed ...

Can you describe, in one sentence or less, the difference between a brand and a commodity?

Here are some of the responses to get the juices flowing!

  • Remember a brand is not what WE say it is, it's what THEY say it is. 
WE = manufacturer/company THEY = Consumers

  • Brand has a face while commodity is faceless

  • A commodity becomes a brand when it establishes an emotional connection with a consumer!

  • A brand is a sum of attributes while a commodity is only it's characteristics.

  • A brand fulfills an emotional need, a product fulfills a practical need.

  • A brand is the difference you remember, a commodity is a product without a difference.

So lets hear it! What say you?


Great topic and thanks for sharing the discusion on LinkedIn.

I think the true distinction between the modern brand and a commodity is that commodities are increasingly becoming "unbrandable".

Great brands (with some exceptions) are no longer commodities with pretty names and faces. Customers now have so much access to information that products and services that aren't remarkable are doomed.

The truly great brands are supported by great products and services.

Apple has better designed and highly usable products (among other things), Starbucks makes coffee that their customers love, Walmart has the lowest prices etc.

There are exceptions of course, but I think the future of branding is going to become increasingly dependent on truly valuable products and services.

The days of trying to brand commodities, or putting lipstick on a pig as it were, are coming to an end.

Arie Opps
Illuminate Marketing

A brand is a shortcut in the mind of the consumer which makes an emotional connection and subconsciously stands for a variety of things. Where a commodity is more of an unbranded lustre lacking version that simply is more of an object or product with little association to differentiate it.

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