Brand: That's you. That's your company, as a person.
In a marketing communication, the brand is the speaker, and that contributes powerfully to the meaning of the message. If your mom asks you for a quarter, you give it to her. If a police officer asks for your license and registration, you do it without question. What if the cop pulled you over and asked for a quarter? Brand is important because it combines with the message and medium to form the meaning in your customer's head.
In addition to impacting the meaning of your marketing communication before the sale, brand has an effect during all interactions with your product. As someone drinks Evian, they might feel good about their sense of prestige rise. In this way, the brand is a product feature. It adds value. If you have a highly visible product like a car, shoes, or soda can where your logo is visible during consumption and people might recognize it, then your brand is very important.
For a web development company like mine, you will hopefully continue to think of us as experts in designing attractive, professional, affordable sites during and after the project. Hopefully, you will think of yourself as smart for having selected us as well. In business-to-business marketing (what we're doing with you right now), feeling good about yourself is typically not as important as the bottom line. Even so, a good brand can contribute to an improved perception of that bottom line.
To a lesser degree, certain brands make people feel proud for consuming them, even if nobody else ever knows. You might look over at your National Geographic magazine and feel good about yourself, for example.
If you want to communicate effectively with your customer, start by deciding what your brand is about. Your brand is the main character in the story that is your marketing message. You may need your brand to be authoritative, have good taste, or seem conservative, depending on the product benefit that you are communicating.