Despite the confluence of "brand" meanings, it seems that different definitions for the term still work depending on the point of view of our counterparts. In the business world, to small and medium size entrepreneurs it means one thing, for corporate executives from high profile companies, it means something else entirely, and if we add the particular vision of internal customers, or Marketing specialists (like me), we can see that there is no one definition that fits all.
The reason why we can not find a general concept of brand is the very nature of what the brand leaves behind. A trace of its existence. All action is synesthetically perceived by our senses. But you don't need to presence the act to understand what happened, we just need to perceive the mark left behind. But these "marks" are not always sufficiently clear and our senses use the referent they carry with them, to understand. That's why different audiences have different meanings to define brand.
All businesses regardless of size, understand that the brand is linked to the image of the company, because visually they can see the brand's imprint. Where the difference lies is in the context of what we consider "image" and the emotional, cultural, social and practical values we assign to it.
For those unfamiliar with marketing research, this "image" is the visual reference and assume the literal definition of the term. This is the reason why small and medium businesses still consider that only the visual part of their companies is what represents their brands.
From the practical point of view, the brand helps to assess the degree of additional and measurable values that can be associated with the economic worth of a business. That's why for high profile and senior execs, the brand helps them measure the Brand equityof their companies and / or products. The visual and financial components are very relevant and make the importance of the social and human component being relegated in significance.
For most of a company's internal customers (employees, suppliers, investors) the "brand" only means this. The company. For them, the physical part and its graphic representation is equivalent to their brand concept. At the end of the day, "it is just business" for them, and the emotional part of it is again relegated. Here the concept loses, yet again, socio-cultural relevance coated by the visual and economic components.
However, we forget that our actions to create an indelible "mark" are directed to an audience, and for them all interaction with the company are creating an experience that results in an opinion on the company and its products or services. For today's audiences, "brand" is a guttural, synesthetic, and holistic concept on how they feel towards those experiences.