Every brand is designed by a human; and built for a human, yet we don’t often think of ourselves as living brands.

The notion of branding is based on premises that are thousands of years old; it’s less about the proposition of being merely a business enactment and practice, but more so the conception of storytelling, the profound element of humanity, how people think, recall, connect and create community for themselves in their relationships. More insights can be gathered in simply looking into the framing of words that make up the vocabulary of branding — an etymological advancement shows added depth in the structuring of brand strategy and experience.

Exploring the conception of branding, the human brand and the tradition of community, connectedness and relationships — an opening essay

Roughly four thousand years ago, in the melting pot of what has been called the Proto Indo European root of languages, the word brand appears as fire, a boiling forth, a burning; and it’s over the course of the last millennia that the spirit of the word evolves. We might intimate that brand is about fire, about making a mark in heat, or about telling a story about a person, a product, or a proposition.

Brand inherently lies in the latter grouping of ideas — that, in equating humanity and branding — it presumes that the vitality of the human spirit is, in fact, a fired and lively expression — and that the concept of the telling, the sharing of that fire — is what the exposition of brand can be. The real proposition to brand could be about the sensate experience of sitting around a campfire, listening to a story and being drawn in, emotionally, psychically and physically. It is that sharing that the emotional power emerges — the relational development between one person and another — one teller of legend and a group of others, that will either be held in the memory or discounted and forgotten.

The whole point to the conception of branding is about emotionality, relationship development, community and storytelling — and finally, how it is visualized and messaged for others to experience. The concept of reflectivity plays in as well — that is, in the proposition of branding — meaning that one person develops a relationship with the community of the brand, and that gift, that connection is “reflected” backwards, in return. The concept of brand in this proposal has a sense of depth and richness that is essentially human — it’s got an emotional connection; it’s not just about the machination of enterprise alone; there has to be broadening links in the wholeness of experience to be relevant.

What this means, in the relationship to other people — the human brand — is that the sphere of storytelling for the person is one of coherence, resonance and relevance; the outbound communications, the messages and outcomes are powerfully managed.

The communications ring of the brand — as an entity — is an expansion of culture, and then of cult, of story — of a premise, the founding driver of the proposition; a promise — the emotional gift of the relationship and finally, the concept of reflection — what is given and what is given back.

So in all these things, there is a string of linguistic strings, that suggest the entirely intimate nature of the brand, the story, the string. Kindly indulge this expansion — that gathers the threading of our exploration, into one woven tapestry of meaning.

Brand, fire and the telling of tales:
The concept of the brand, as fire — linked to storytelling — is at the heart of the consideration of brand development; that’s not only for the personal connections in the positioning of the human brand, but as well, for the larger sphere of holistic branding. Whether is the person, or the larger enterprise, the theories remain the same: passion, commitment, engagement — all linked at the nexus of connecting to community in resonance. If there’s no fire, no endurance to the power of the brand and the story; then there’s nothing; it’s merely smoke. For person, for enterprise; for local, for global.The string unfurls:

O.E. brand, brond “firebrand, piece of burning wood, torch,” and (poetic) “sword,” from P.Gmc. *brandaz, from base *bran-/*bren- (see burn). Meaning of “identifying mark made by a hot iron” (1552) broadened 1827 to “a particular make of goods.” Brand-new is c.1570 and must have meant “fresh from the fire” (Shakespeare has fire-new).

c.1340, from O.Fr. brandiss-, stem of brandir “to flourish a sword,” of Frank. origin.

12c., combination of O.N. brenna “to burn, light,” and two originally distinct O.E. verbs: bærnan “to kindle” (trans.) and beornan “to be on fire” (intrans.), both from P.Gmc. *brenwanan, perhaps from PIE *bhre-n-u, from base *bhereu- “to boil forth, well up.” This root was also the source of O.E. born, burne “a spring, fountain,” still common in place names.

The Emotional Connection:
The inherent nature of everything in brand space is about movement — the adherence and resilience in change and transition; but importantly, motion and movement link to the power of the emotional experience. To be moved is to be connected to the heart and the heat of the relationship — if there’s no heat, it will be forgettable. And the real driver in any brand — personal or otherwise — is the emotional link that attachs most significantly to memory.

1579, “a (physical) moving, stirring, agitation,” from M.Fr. emotion, from O.Fr. emouvoir “stir up,” from L. emovere “move out, remove, agitate,” from ex- “out” + movere “to move” (see move). Sense of “strong feeling” is first recorded 1660; extended to “any feeling” 1808. Emote is a 1917 back-formation. Emotional “liable to emotion” is from 1857.

feel (v.)
O.E. felan “to touch,” from Gmc. *folijanan (cf. Du. voelen, Ger. fühlen “to feel,” O.N. falma “to grope”), from PIE base *(s)pol-/*(s)pal- “to strike softly” (cf. Gk. psallein “to pluck (the harp),” L. palpare “to touch softly, stroke,” palpitare “to move quickly”). The sense in O.E. was “to perceive through senses which are not referred to any special organ.” Sense of “be conscious of a sensation or emotion” developed by c.1290; that of “to have sympathy or compassion” is from 1605; feeling (n.) “emotion” is first recorded 1369; feelings “tender or sensitive side of one’s nature” is 1771.

Cult, culture and cultivation, examining brand richness.
Any brand story is about a sense of depth that extends beyond operational engineering — brands, human brands — will have more of an enclosing and spherical state of being that is wrapped around the heart and philosophy of the person, the leadership. It’s relevant to consider that the web of relationships — for the one, to the crowd; from the crowd to the colony — will be managed and retained in the construct of a creed, a credo — the internal driving cult, that empowers culture, that lends itself to be cultivation and the enrichment of civilization.


1620, from M.L. cultivatus, pp. of cultivare, from L.L. cultivus “tilled,” from L. cultus (see cult). Figurative sense of “improve by training or education” is from 1681.

1617, “worship,” also “a particular form of worship,” from Fr. culte, from L. cultus “care, cultivation, worship,” originally “tended, cultivated,” pp. of colere “to till” (see colony). Rare after 17c.; revived mid-19c. with reference to ancient or primitive rituals. Meaning “devotion to a person or thing” is from 1829.

1440, “the tilling of land,” from L. cultura, from pp. stem of colere “tend, guard, cultivate, till” (see cult). The figurative sense of “cultivation through education” is first attested 1510. Meaning “the intellectual side of civilization” is from 1805; that of “collective customs and achievements of a people” is from 1867.

Examining the idea of commune, community and communication:
Twitter, Facebook and other social media reflect the quality of the human story — moment to moment; and the spiraling nature of these engagements are about the resonant relational expansions — the branded network. Friends. The human brand network, the corporate brand network — they are built, expanded on, in the rippling of “friend” networks. Without these committed friends, neither modeling — the business or the personal have any sense of connectivity and adhesion. The community, more so, is reflective — in addition to being rippling — stories, ideas, sharing, gifts; what is given, is given back.

1375, from O.Fr. communité, from L. communitatem (nom. communitas) “community, fellowship,” from communis “common, public, general, shared by all or many,” (see common). L. communitatem “was merely a noun of quality … meaning ‘fellowship, community of relations or feelings,’ but in med.L. it was, like universitas, used concretely in the sense of ‘a body of fellows or fellow-townsmen’ ” [OED]. An O.E. word for “community” was gemænscipe “community, fellowship, union, common ownership,” probably composed from the same PIE roots as communis.

c.1384, in reference to surfaces, from L.L. reflexionem (nom. reflexio) “a reflection,” lit. “a bending back,” from L. reflex-, pp. stem of reflectere, from re- “back” + flectere “to bend.” Meaning “remark made after turning back one’s thought on some subject” is from 1659. The verb reflect is recorded from 1412, originally “to turn aside;” meaning “to turn back” an image or light rays is from 1530; sense of “to turn one’s thoughts (back) to” is first attested 1605.

reflex (n.)
1508, “reflection of light,” from the verb meaning “refract, deflect” (c.1380), from L.L. reflexus “a bending back,” prop. pp. of reflectere.

The concept of proposition, mission, premise and promise.
There must be a promise — in the construct of the huamn brand as well as the corporate branding models — that is released into the realm of the relational world. A promise, is attached etymologically to the concept of mission — the daily work, step by step, the momentum of the moment. It is about the work that is the very reason for being.And this precept, this principle is ultimately attached to the maximal — the greatest state of being.

premise (n.)
c.1374, in logic, “a previous proposition from which another follows,” from O.Fr. premisse, from M.L. premissa (propositio) “(the proposition) set before,” fem. pp. of L. præmittere “send or put before,” from præ- “before” + mittere “to send” (see mission). In legal documents it meant “matter previously stated” (1429), which in deeds or wills often was a house or building, hence extended meaning of “house or building, with grounds” (1730). The verb meaning “to state before something else” is from 1526.

“precept, principle,” 1426, from M.Fr. maxime, from L.L. maxima, usually in maxima propositio “axiom,” lit. “greatest premise,” fem. of maximus “greatest” (see maximum).

“account of some happening,” c.1225, “narrative of important events or celebrated persons of the past,” from O.Fr. estorie, from L.L. storia and L. historia “history, account, tale, story” (see history). Meaning “recital of true events” first recorded c.1375; sense of “narrative of fictitious events meant to entertain” is from c.1500. Not differentiated from history till 1500s. As a euphemism for “a lie” it dates from 1697. Meaning “newspaper article” is from 1892. Story-teller is from 1709.

The words have meaning in intentionality and action.
Ultimately, the effort of the work — your brand — is to consider visualization of all of the elements that we’ve noted above, starting with the sparked embers of the story, the fired flame of a sensate circle of listeners and experiencers, the movement of feeling — emotion. the enlivening of the richness of culture and cultivation, the spread of community and the maximization of premise. This is the beginning.

More observations are here:
Brand love
Social media explorations
BrandQuest® | Creative collaborations in brandstorming
Brand depth
Human Brands

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