The profile of a brand in travel - and the perception of it from consumers and industry peers - is mostly generated over the course of certain events or a period of time.
These impressions change, of course, as developments have an impact on customers, and a brand can radically alter its strategy and position in its marketplace.
A brand may have a spectacular launch and get a lot of PR buzz, but it may fizzle out fairly quickly.
Others have had a consistent effect on the industry over the course of their history, despite their age, mostly through their ability to stay relevant or the introduction of new services or partnerships that change the way others operate or compete with them.
And some, sadly, are the victims of events that are not at all positive for them or their customers and were clearly not part of their agenda for the year.
They are all, however, newsmakers in their own right and have become brands that everyone is inevitably talking about.
As 2018 draws to a close, PhocusWire is highlighting the three brands that have had the most impact over the course of the past 12 months and captured the most attention across the whole industry, not just their own sector.
In reverse order...
Third place - Marriott/Starwood
It would be safe to assume that the merged giants of the hotel sector from two years ago did not start 2018 expecting to be fighting a hugely damaging public relations and technical fire.
Such is the way of the digital era that any kind of security breach becomes a story in both the mainstream and business media.
But this particular case was very different.
Marriott's admission at the end of November that it was the latest victim of a cyber security attack - one of the biggest in history - was notable for a number of reasons, none of them at all positive for the company.
The size of the breach was extraordinary (500 million guest records), but the type of data that was said to have been obtained by the hackers makes the incident one of the most serious to have ever occurred not only in the travel industry but across all sectors of business.
The acknowledgement that the hack was taking place over the course of four years (so, pre-merger) and was only discovered in September (some suspect earlier) has inevitably ignited a lot of speculation as to where the blame lies not only from a detection perspective but how it could have started in the first place.
This story will not go away any time soon. Investigations will hopefully unravel what happened, lawsuits will continue to be filed, GDPR may get to rule on its first high-profile case and heads may eventually roll.
Second place - Google
"Huh, Google," you say? Surely throwing Google into a list of newsmakers for the year is a fairly obvious one and should therefore be discounted for showing a lack of imagination?
Sliced in a certain direction and Google would probably deserve to be the number one slot in this list, in the same way as it probably could do each year.
Not one individual event or announcement compels us to include Google in this year's list; rather, a series of developments that illustrate every little move it makes in the travel sector has some degree of impact (though the search giant is not officially a travel brand).
The company started the year with a fairly important step in the evolution of its travel products.
It combined the flights, hotels and inspiration (Explore) elements of its travel products into a single point, giving users the ability to click between searching for products without having to re-enter dates and destinations.
In the same navigation bar, they could now explore destination details with photos and click "Your Trips" to view upcoming and past reservations from Gmail.
This development was the first solid sign that, over time, Google fully intends to bring everything it can do to service the traveler into one platform, whether it's desktop or mobile.
Such a move may not terrify everyone in the industry (there are still many who believe it cannot unseat the giants) - but it should.
Other developments this year at Google may not be show-stoppers but have an impact in various ways.
In its hotel search product, users can now book individual rooms, for example. Or check out the changes to the real estate on Google's results pages.
In April, PhocusWire revealed a brand-new product extension in travel for Google - tours and activities.
The stealthy testing of Touring Bird was quickly followed by a full launch in September. Although the product is being operated out of its Area 120 idea incubator division, it seems naive to consider it will stay there rather than join its fellow sectors such as Flights and Hotels with a staffed-up division.
Finally, let's not forget that Google remains the biggest drag on the marketing budgets of almost every travel brand on the planet.
It's ability to pump that revenue into products that compete with the sources of the same income continues to be both extremely smart and a source of much irritation. It unlikely that this strange (to the outside world) ecosystem will end in the short-term.
Newsmaker of the year - Airbnb
There are probably many in the industry sick of hearing about Airbnb.
Or at least they're mildly irked that even if the company sneezed the press would inevitably write about it.
Much of this still holds true - the mainstream press do a wonderful/annoying job (depending on your point of view) of maintaining Airbnb's standing as one of the coolest and innovative brands to have emerged in the travel sector in recent years.
It doesn't quite ignite the same levels of irritation from a regulatory perspective that Uber appears to do, nor has it suffered at all from the unsavory stories around corporate culture at its sharing-economy neighbor.
That's not to say that Airbnb can do no wrong - but 2018 was the year that the company appeared to take a significant leap forward.
This evolutionary moment concerned its overall position within the industry and signaled what could be, if successful, one of the pivotal moments of the last few years in online travel.
During a series of product announcements at a customer and press event in San Francisco in February this year, Airbnb stated its intention to bring in over a billion guests on an annual basis by 2028.
This might ordinarily have scared the hell out of hoteliers, but Airbnb has a different sector of the industry in its crosshairs.
In an interview with PhocusWire, co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky stated that online travel agencies are now the enemy, not hotels or other private accommodation owners.
"Our competition is two companies – Expedia and Booking.com – and I’m extremely excited about what the next ten years have in store,” Chesky told us. “Make no mistake: We are going to run this company for decades, but in a certain way."
This fight became even more apparent with the news two weeks before before Chesky's comments when it emerged that Airbnb would be officially opening up for distribution of hotels.
This was essentially hitting back at the OTAs that have spent the last few years getting in on the private accommodation game, with Expedia Group buying HomeAway for $3.9 billion in 2015 and Booking.com adding hundreds of thousands of units to its portfolio.
These developments were huge for Airbnb, plus have put the OTAs on notice.
And these come without any mention of the introduction of flights (two years and counting, it's worth noting) and when Airbnb will list on the public markets.
Yet what gets missed in the hurling of rhetoric between executives and the slightly lightweight analysis on what consumers want and get from these respective brands is about the dynamics of the industry.
For all the talk of "experiences" and what modern travelers want to do and how they want to do it, the travel industry is essentially and continues to be simply a battle between platforms.
Airbnb in 2018 just added its weight to that warfare.
Such lists of so-called newsmakers are purely subjective, of course.
We could easily have mentioned any of the following in the same breath as providers of important developments over the course of 2018.