Brand is not a logo. Brand is not a tagline. Brand is not a meticulous set of fonts and pantones laid out in a style guide. Brand is simply the points of contact between a company and a consumer.

This isn’t some great revelation I alone have been entrusted to spread across the marketing landscape. I am but one advocate for this brand of brand. Yet all shifts in ideology take time to move from theory to standard practice. So here’s my take on why this should happen sooner rather than later.

First, let me be clear—logos, taglines and style guides are crucial to brand. They help form the basis of strategic, impactful and consistent messaging. My point is it doesn’t stop there. Everything a company says, everything a company does and everything a company is perceived to believe is part of their brand.

That’s why brands can no longer be thought of as some passive object to be bought and sold. Brands need to have a point of view. Brands need to make connections with people, and they need to evolve. A brand that is rigid and inflexible can quickly become irrelevant.

Consumers today are inundated with content. They sift through the minutia for authenticity and are choosing companies that align with their values. If a brand’s content is not relevant to them, they can easily move on to the next. However, if consumers are engaged properly, they will champion a brand with every tweet, post, share and pin they make.

With the advent of social media, brand has become a conversation, and that conversation is happening whether a company participates or not. Companies that lead the conversation control their own destinies. By creating an open dialogue, a company can react to the marketplace in real time and build a more personal relationship with consumers.

Building and maintaining a brand is a lot of work, but it’s also an exciting opportunity. There are more ways then ever to connect and interact with consumers. If a company continually makes an effort to be inclusive and bring real value to them, there’s no limit to what a brand can do.

Learn about JPL’s brand methodology.