Brands represent the cultivation of what could be. The brands we choose or champion are an expression of our better selves, kind of like a kaleidoscope that lets us see ourselves achieving all of our goals and desires. Attractiveness, achievements – these are a few of the things beloved brands help us see in ourselves. So, it makes sense then, that wearing a pair of Lorna Jane active yoga pants says that we value self-love and wellness, while buying an Apple computer says that we are learning more about the world around us, while contributing to it, too. This is why key messaging is of such importance – it helps us articulate what we wish for ourselves, and how the brand can satisfy that desire.
Brands are successful when they align with our world views, reiterating what we know to be true through both product and service. Consumers attach meaning to brands that speak as one unified voice that ‘hormone free chicken makes us healthier’ or ‘motorcycles scream adventure’. Brands win over buyers because they excel at representing our definition of the truth and telling stories that we can nod in agreement with.
There’s a reason why McDonald’s is one of the most revered global brands, because it’s reliable, consistent, standardised and thus predictable. Travellers from Melbourne to Missouri can often expect the same menu items, cooked using the same methods, and tasting nearly identical. That’s also the reason why so many parents of first-time drivers will often opt for brands known for longevity of its parts and solid safety measures over all makes and models. When buyers need to have their needs met now, dependability is what matters most.
Good brands fill the void between the real and the imagined. Then, what are the techniques of building a good brand?
First, good branding should always centre on the person who uses the thing you are selling and never on the thing in itself. The brand and the user become one. The consumer is the hero of the story, not the brand or the thing. A good brand is not a promise that the thing is what it ought to be, but that what the person can be or can become.
Second, good branding should always compel the consumer to make a choice, but not between Thing X and Thing Y. The pivotal choice should not be about the thing in itself, but about the brand and its world of feeling, meaning, and emotion. To engage a good brand in a deep relationship is synonymous with becoming the uncreated self.
Third, good branding should always assert the perfectibility of all things, including society, humanity, and the world. That is its higher purpose. A good brand is a door to what ought to be from what is. It is a promise to create a world like nothing else can.