Perhaps most importantly a brand represents a product or service, an expectation of something good. If you think of brands you are familiar with they all offer something you are familiar with by now. The difference between Pizza Hut and Pizza Express as brands is that one is more expensive and arguably better tasting than the other, which aims for a market that settles for good without demanding excellent. If you have visited both restaurants you will be aware of the difference.
With brands like Coca Cola or Pepsi, the brand is instantly recognisable through the methods used to represent a brand, which are most commonly, the logo, the slogan, the design and all the other things that might go to making a business, the personality of that brand incorporates the service you expect, the price, the delivery mechanism. The brand is the way you feel when you think about that business.
When you think about a well known brand you have a feeling, a feeling that many might share about how a business is represented through its branding. Skoda, the car manufacturer was known in the UK as a low end brand of car that even had its own set of jokes, mostly involving how awful they were as cars, unreliable & cheap. When Skoda became part of the Volkswagen group in 2000, they had to do a lot of work on reclaiming the brand, using slogans such as: 'It's a Skoda. Honest.', playing on the prior brand awareness in the market.
This kind of promotional message helped Skoda to reclaim and change the way people felt about the brand. In the end a brand is what it means to you, and of course marketers try and target as many of 'you' as possible, whether it be as cost-savings, as with Poundland, or elegance as with Chanel.
What does your brand say about your business?