A brand is the consistent delivery of a message by a human or business. A reputable brand strikes a perfect trifecta as being useful, beautiful, and intuitive.

Distinct from branding, a brand is a unique story or identity formed by the evocative, relatable, and accessible elements of the person or business. A commanding brand consistently walks the talk, using every interaction to communicate the what, how, and why, invoking the desired response from the audience.

The what classifies not simply the products or services, but their usefulness in addressing a problem. What problem does the brand solve? What does the brand bring to the industry or community? What does the brand do or make better than its competitors? The brand’s products or services should embody the answers to these questions, but should almost never be the sole focus.

The how represents the beauty or desirability of the brand. This is the expression of the brand’s utility through appealing engagement. How does the brand attract its audience? How does the brand consistently deliver on its message and engage its audience? How does the brand stand apart? The methods of engagement should feel inviting to the target audience while communicating the brand’s value and usefulness succinctly through every touchpoint.

The why encapsulates the intuitiveness of the brand. The purpose or goal—the “why”—should serve as the focal point for the “what” and the “how”, thus laying the foundation for the user to connect with the brand. Why does this brand exist? Why does the brand care about this problem? Why should the audience trust/choose this brand over any other viable brand? The what and the how should consistently underscore the why.

As important as the what, how, and why are in formulating the brand, a key truth must be understood. A brand is not what it sells. A brand’s value proposition is not how it sells. The centerpiece of the most successful brands, personal or business, is why it sells.

The most profitable brands in the world are not selling a product or service, because that is not what motivates people. They are selling a mindset or an ideology. They are selling a lifestyle. They are selling a message. Simply stated: A brand is comprised of a useful approach to a problem (what), beautiful or desirable engagement (how), and an intuitive connection (why) in the vanguard.