Branding Past Gestation

One of the most fun things about creating and building and brand is the creative, storytelling nature of taking a concept or company and giving it a personality. The flip side of that coin is that it has to exist, thrive and resonate in the real world. And sometimes the real world likes to inflict its own noise on the message.

Creating a brand is a bit like motherhood. A woman becomes a mother when she discovers she is pregnant. As that baby grows inside, that mother imagines and plans for the person who will be. Anything is possible. Any name. Any personality, carriage, talent – the possibilities for this existence are limitless.

Such is the creation of a brand. We take an idea/product/company and shape a persona for it. We do research to make sure that it will be unique and that it will have qualities that people like. When it is fully formed (or fully formed enough to be born), we release it into the world.

And that is where the fun (and the problem) starts.

Wouldn’t it be nice if all we dreamed and crafted could impact its sphere – without its sphere impacting it? Sadly, a brand is only as resonant and formative as its audience will allow. Sometimes, the brand wins. Seriously, when is the last time you asked for a tissue rather than a Kleenex, or pulled on a girdle rather than your Spanx? Heck, down here in Atlanta, you don’t even ask for a soda – it’s a Coke – whether it is or whether it is something else. (Confusing, I know – I still can’t quite wrap my head around that one.) Ubiquity. Strength that exceeds the power of the marketplace to push back on it. That’s what we brand folks strive for. It’s rare.

So, how do we counterbalance the potential for the {business/consumer/advertising…} world to put its own mask on our creation? We flex while remaining true to our core; we listen to what people love and hate, and then highlight (or downplay) those things; and sometimes we compromise.

During the Olympics, logo usage on athletes’ singlets was a significant topic. Oiselle, one of the companies whose otherwise very strong brand was reigned in (significantly) tells their compelling story in this video. What started as a colorful singlet filled with aspiration and expressing a brand that centers on the joy of running, was dulled by rules and squelched by restrictions that – even explained in logical terms by the ones making the rules – defy sensibility.

Everyone thinks about branding – whether it’s your job, or whether it’s how you build and maintain your personal image. Image is reality. How do you keep reality from dimming your image?


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