You can be on Entrepreneur’s cover!

Is There a Difference Between a Product and a Brand? You probably guessed it, the answer is yes, and it all has to do with emotions.

By Jim Joseph

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Monica Dipres

I have the tremendous honor of teaching marketing classes at New York University. Through the course of five years, my curriculum has changed from modeling my business books, fully integrated marketing to the differences between products and brands.

So what is the difference between a product and a brand? When the school asked me to tackle that subject, I had to think twice about it. But then it became rather clear to me.

It's been a fascinating exploration because on the surface it probably seems like there is no difference between a product and a brand. But when you dig a little deeper, there actually is a big difference -- a huge one.

Related: What Listening Says About Your Brand

So I thought it would be fun, in my next series here at Entrepreneur.com, to take the content from my NYU class and dissect it across a series of topics. I'm going to take you on a journey, so to speak, in a class-by-class, column-by-column look at what separates a product from a brand.

If I were to sum it up in one word, the difference is emotional. You'll see what I mean.

Products perform a function.

They have properties that when combined together do something for customers. The problem is that within any given category, most products perform similar functions. There's very little differentiation. Ingredients are ingredients and they tend to be the same across a category.

Products are all about what they do for people. Products fulfill a customer's needs.

Functions, ingredients and needs -- that's what makes up a product.

Brands offer an emotion.

Brands are actually quite different from products because they don't just cover a customer's needs, they fulfill a customer's wants.

We don't fall in love with products -- we fall in love with brands. Brands offer a promise and an emotion. Brands are about how they make people feel. Brands fulfill a customer's wants.

Related: How Do You Sustain Your Brand's Value? Follow These 6 Steps.

Promises, emotions and wants -- that's what makes up a brand.

The big difference.

In short, while you may need a product, you will want a brand.

So for example, I may need a cup of coffee, but I personally want to get it at Starbucks.

Coffee is the product in this case and caffeine is the ingredient. I need it to get going in the morning and I could get it literally anywhere, including at Dunkin' Donuts, the corner market or at home. But I choose Starbucks.

Starbucks is the brand in this case, and the experience at Starbucks is the emotion I want in the morning. I want a Starbucks coffee because of the unique experience I get and from how it makes me feel. It prepares me for the day ahead and makes me productive in the morning. With Starbucks coffee, I am ready! I want Starbucks for how it makes me feel.

Products equal functions. Brands equal emotions.

Hopefully you can see that products are basically at parity to each other, they fulfill the same needs. Brands are what differentiate because of how they uniquely make people feel.

That's a lot loaded into a few simple paragraphs, which is exactly why we will be probing the subject in depth over the next few weeks, topic by topic as we tackle not only the difference between products and brands but also how to manage them both in the process.

Related: The Greatness Guide to Building Your Brand and Empire

Jim Joseph

Marketing Master - Author - Blogger - Dad

Jim Joseph is a commentator on the marketing industry. He is Global President of the marketing communications agency BCW, author of The Experience Effect series and an adjunct instructor at New York University.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Side Hustle

This Dad Started a Side Hustle to Save for His Daughter's College Fund — Then It Earned $1 Million and Caught Apple's Attention

In 2015, Greg Kerr, now owner of Alchemy Merch, was working as musician when he noticed a lucrative opportunity.

Business News

I Designed My Dream Home For Free With an AI Architect — Here's How It Works

The AI architect, Vitruvius, created three designs in minutes, complete with floor plans and pictures of the inside and outside of the house.

Business Ideas

63 Small Business Ideas to Start in 2024

We put together a list of the best, most profitable small business ideas for entrepreneurs to pursue in 2024.

Business Ideas

7 Link-Building Tactics You Need to Know to Skyrocket Your Website's Rankings

An essential component of SEO, link building is not just a 'Set them and forget them' proposition, but a dance of skills and strategies.

Business News

Here's One Thing Americans Would Take a Pay Cut For — Besides Remote Work

An Empower survey found a high percentage of respondents would take a pay cut for better retirement benefits and remote work options.

Business News

This Fan-Favorite Masters 2024 Item Is Still $1.50 as Tournament Menu Appears Unscathed by Inflation

The pimento cheese sandwich is a tradition almost as big as the tournament itself.