It seems every agency and business thinks of ‘brand’ in their own way. As a result, the word can become as ambiguous as missions, visions, purposes and manifestos. Here’s our take...
Brands are stories. Brands are experiences. Brands are emotions. Brands are our worries and our hopes and our fears. Brands are where we think we could be, brands are where we’re sad we are not. Brands are friends and brands are foes. Brands encourage us, they inspire us, they persuade, cajole and move us. Brands adapt and attract or stand still and fall out of fashion.
Brands, traditionally, were ‘created’ by teams of business-focused experts. Today, with vocal consumers having more and more influence and businesses keen to reach out to people spoilt for choice, it’s becoming very apparent that over time brands evolve with their own personalities. There is a reason for this.
Because your brand, as we quoted this morning in a meeting with a strategist, is 'what other people say about you when you're not in the room’. That’s how Amazon’s Jeff Bezos once put it. Brands have a life away from the companies, products and services they exist to represent and express. They are not theirs, they are not ours, they are not yours. But they are moulded by us all.
Brands are perception. They can be guided but never completely controlled.
Brands are children. They are born, they are nurtured, they grow and they age. They begin by cooing and gurgling until one day they find a voice and explore that voice and perfect that voice. Because brands can speak the way businesses can’t. Brands wear clothes, too. They change these when the weather turns.
One day, the successful brands go to big school. At big school, most brands meet bullies. They fight or flee, they make friends or foes. They interact, they learn, they evolve. Friends made now are often friends for life.
Some brands we remember. Some brands we will never forget. The most memorable brands transcend business and become part of our lives. They help us to live the way we want to live. We reach for these brands before we reach for our loved ones. We feel we know these brands like we feel we know David Beckham, Donald Trump or the Queen.
Today’s meeting involved deep conversations around how to engage people outside the brand world – technical people, money people, legal people – with the brands their company has given birth to. Our brief is asking us to create something unforgettable. A story that connects.
Therefore it is our job to go on an adventure – with our eyes wide open and ears pinned back. We can listen and learn and coax and guide and nudge gently into narrative. But if we try to control, we do so at our peril.