“Branding is the emotional positioning of a product as perceived by its customers. Product branding is achieved through a combination of factors, including the product name and logo, use of color, text, graphics, and sound, the style of various other design elements, marketing, and most importantly, the attributes of the product experience itself. Successful branding requires skillful crafting of a product image, and is not achieved simply by plastering a product logo on every surface and using the product’s color scheme at every opportunity. Rather, meaningful and high quality branding that enhances users’ experience will be much more successful.”
Much of it is specific to Windows Vista and applications that will install into Windows Vista, but I’d say anyone creating a product should give this a read to help them think about what branding is, does, and why it’s so important. I wish more companies in the world understood the need to create great customer experiences from end to end. Companies often bemoan Apple’s success in many markets, and wonder why they can’t achieve the same thing – they could, if they paid attention to the customer experience and stopped letting engineers and software developers make all the decisions.