Brand Spanking New

"B" stands for branding ... and bicycles.

“B” stands for branding … and bicycles.

Have you ever had the realization that a phrase you have been using your whole life makes no sense? I had this epiphany the other day while driving and asked my wife, “What does ‘brand new’ even mean?” Of course, through many years of hearing the phrase in context we understand that it means something new that has never been used. But where does the “brand” come into play? And then add “spanking?” So confusing.

The Phrase Finder helped my understanding immensely:

A hot burned wooden stake has been called a brand since at least 950 AD. To brand means to ‘make an indelible mark of ownership’, especially with a hot stake or iron … The earliest citation of ‘brand new’ is in John Foxe’s Sermons, 1570: “New bodies, new minds and all thinges new, brande-newe.” … It appears that whoever coined ‘brand spanking new’ did so by appropriating the imagery of ‘spick and span‘, the rhyme of ‘bran’ and ‘span’ and the meaning of ‘spanking’.

Well, that clears everything up nicely … not really. We may never really understand the origin of this phrase, but we can understand the importance of branding. No, not so we can keep track of cows. Your company should have an indelible mark of ownership in it’s branding, though.

The American Marketing Association (AMA) defines a brand as a “name, term, sign, symbol or design, or a combination of them intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of other sellers.

Laura Lake of says, “It makes sense to understand that branding is not about getting your target market to choose you over the competition, but it is about getting your prospects to see you as the only one that provides a solution to their problem.”

Two areas of importance in branding are consistency and credibility. Your brand should have a consistent feel and should inspire confidence in your company.

Consistency. If you are tweaking your logo or slogans every month, you are confusing your customers. Pick a font and stay with it. Slogans do not change with the seasons. Debeers has been using “A diamond is forever.” since 1948. This does not mean you cannot have short term advertising campaigns centered around a specific statement or idea. When you are ready for a major overhaul in branding, be committed and go all the way. Having multiple versions of your brand floating around will also create confusion. The goal is to inspire confidence not incompetence.

Credibility. Does your branding communicate your expertise and professionalism? (Side note: Incredible means “not credible” or “impossible.” It does not mean “really credible.” You’re welcome.) Pulling your logo out of Word’s clip art catalog is not choice number one for establishing credibility. Significant time is needed to research your target audience and then marry that information to what you offer in order to successfully brand your company.

Branding is very important to the overall success of any company. If customers cannot figure who you are, what you do and why they should purchase from you in a short period of time it decreases the probability of capturing their confidence and winning their business.  Today, make a brand spanking new effort to have consistent, credible branding … until the cows come home.


About the Author


Mark is a marketer and sometimes writer. He's trying to get better at that sometimes thing.

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