No more of Simon Sinek’s magic circles; goodbye Missions, Visions, Values; au revoir brand platforms. I am by no means someone who could be described as conservative or nostalgic, but I think that these tools still have value because, if taken seriously, they are fantastic triggers for expressing what the brand is all about deep down, above and beyond its visual expression. What defines it as being unique. I even believe that it is the fact that these strategic foundations have been lost or forgotten that has led some brands to communicate with a sense of urgency outside of their comfort zones, driven by the mutual empathy that we feel in these difficult times.
"where the opportunity arises to slip in a good word, to occupy a new space, to grab hold of a new audience, overtakes the oh-so-restrictive context of the brand platform."
No, branding is not a dirty word. Wanting to make sure that your brand isn’t just about appearances (even though one of the principles is that it should be seen), but also about "being", in other words how it perceives itself, is essential. Where there is a gap between the two is usually in the message; in the way it expresses itself, often in advertising. Where the opportunity arises to slip in a good word, to occupy a new space, to grab hold of a new audience, overtakes the oh-so-restrictive context of the brand platform. And yet it is this restriction that triggers a brand’s coherence and sincerity, whatever the circumstances.
I’m not using this as a stick to beat marketing departments or advertising agencies, but rather holding it out like a baton to pass on, because on this racetrack that sometimes looks like a chaotic fairground, it’s a good idea if we are running in the same direction. The right direction. Without forgetting that in the end, it isn’t really about arriving at your destination, but setting off on the next journey. Brands should not be focusing on style over substance.
"Even if a brand is revolutionary, it should be wise; in other words, to give itself the perspective it needs to break down barriers."
I believe that branding could adopt three age-old principles defined by Plato. Truth, Beauty and Goodness. In my opinion, these transcendentals help us define how a brand exists in the world. Truth, honest with itself; Beauty, in terms of both its aesthetic and its moral values; Goodness, in its interactions with others. No, I am not conservative, but it’s good to reflect on what the philosophers had to say through the prism of the world today. Even if a brand is revolutionary, it should be wise; in other words, to give itself the perspective it needs to break down barriers.
But I am not blind, and many brands are just façades. They were before and during the pandemic, and will continue to be so afterwards. As long as there are people who believe in them. And I’m not a pessimist either, because in the light of the lockdown, and of this period of shutdown that is forcing us to think about how each and every one of us exists in the world, we are awakening our critical senses, and taking this opportunity to test brands with reality.
So I will continue to work in branding, to help brands find their personality, their name, their identity and their world. A brand that offers pleasure, that people want to buy, but also that wants to engage, because it is beautiful, because it is good, because it is true.