I just had dinner with the Korean country manager of Frietag, the Swiss bag company. Throughout the conversation, I realized, as did he, that I'm quite an admirer of brands; for example, I'm an owner of Qwstion, Rains, Porter, Onitsuka Tiger, and Monocle items.
He didn't like the word branding. Instead, he likened brand to something akin to company personality or values, something he could throw his personal energy and values behind. But even then, words really didn't describe the feelings that Frietag meant to him, nor to the people working at the company.
Brand, I've realized, is like art. It's supposed to evoke feelings, not words. Words can describe slightly what a brand feels like, but they are incomplete and missing the connectedness. Like art, the best position to straddle is to either make people extremely like, or dislike, where you stand.