I recently listened to an interview with Austin McGhie, author of the book Brand Is A Four Letter Word. In his conversation with Debbie Millman, he makes the case that marketing is in fact positioning, and takes issue with the word branding, which people use when they actually mean positioning. McGhie believes that brand is a noun and not a verb, and it is positioning yourself to differentiate your brand from others in a way in which you show how you are better than the competition.
If you’re interested to learn more about this perspective, you can read about it in his book, or listen to the podcast below.
Personally, I’m a big fan of the idea that a brand is what people think of it, as a result of your efforts to communicate it in a certain way. You can have an idea of what you want your brand to be, to mean to other people, but in the end it is what they come to understand of it, depending on how well you are able to communicate (position) it.