...or both? There is a difference, but it does get confusing, even to marketers who talk about such things for a living.
Example: Kim Kardashian Inc. Her look and celebrity have made her a brand. But what, exactly, does she represent?
To me, she represents - well - not much. Until I read the NYT article, I was only barely aware of her as one of those interchangeable reality show "stars" (and isn't Bruce Jenner her step-dad or something? Yawn.) But then I'm not her "target customer." What's she selling? What are people buying?
...as the branding expert Robert K. Passikoff put it in a phone interview this week, “You would have had to be living in a cave in Nepal to have not been exposed in one way or another to the celebrity ilk of Kim Kardashian.”
I may have to look into a cave as a second home. But I digress.
The NYT article tells us she and her family have a "branding empire that includes fashion boutiques, fitness videos, credit cards, a best-selling fragrance, skin care products and a self tanner."
More power to her (and her sisters) for turning their luck of the reality show draw into an "empire." Regardless of what I think of them, that takes entrepreneurial chutzpah. However, all they have is a "brand" - one which, by its very nature, is difficult to sustain, as the next flavor of the month comes along. (Methinks Snooki could give them a run for that self-tanner biz.)
For the rest of us in the real biz world - we need both a brand AND a (quality) product. The style AND the substance.