Is A Brand A Business Or A Person, Or Something Else Entirely?
Max. 3 minute read.
I found a grey hair. My first grey hair at 42. I’m not sure how I’m supposed to react to this. Joyful for finally arriving into the alleged wise stage or shocked that I’m reaching half-time in my life span. Gulp!
Whilst pondering on this grey hair I reflect a little on age and the past: I’ve had a good life up to now. So many glorious, wonderful things have happened where I’ve created moments in my life, where I’ve gone from strength-to-strength. Of course there have also been miserable times – does my grey hair come from that? I wonder.
I then think about how far I’ve come in my business.
The journey has been an adventure from Corporate Traditional Marketing to creating Soul Brand Marketing® and Brand Your Soul® Branding.
It’s funny. You’d think that a brand is a business. Some think it’s a person. Me?
I THINK IT’S SOMETHING ELSE ENTIRELY.
As a kid I wore only LA Gear trainers because of what they represented – Paula Abdul. My brand perception was that wearing these shoes would include me in the world of dancers and choreographers — the world of Hollywood where I aspired to be. I never saw the Brand as a business or a person. Had the shoes been endorsed by John Travolta or the Bee Gees, I wouldn’t have looked at the shoes the same way I did back then.
As I got older and started studying Marketing and Advertising, I was encapsulated by Apple as a brand. Here, too, I didn’t fall in love with the name Apple, but rather the community that bought and used Apple.
I distinctly remember my first encounter with a creative in the Schipol airport in Holland, watching him walk with this Apple earpods dangling across his black sweater and his Afro hair and white sneakers. He just looked so carefree and free to live his life how he wanted. I, too, wanted that i.e. live my life how I wanted and Apple would give me that.
It was only much later on in my career that I took notice of Steve Jobs, one of the brains behind the Brand Apple. I then started to see Apple as a business and a person. The two were synonymous with one another. And then Steve Jobs left this world and then I realised that a Brand isn’t a business or a person, but a Soul. A Soul is what keeps a Brand alive. Not the business or the person.
Most businesses and/or persons start a business executing conventional Brand Marketing, which puts Profit over Purpose. The primary focus lies on the Profit — the ROI. Purpose has no room in the business. And the brand is focused around the product and/or service. An empty shell.
A BRAND IS IN MY OPINION A SOUL.
Steve Job’s Purpose was to think differently. This didn’t just apply to his beloved Apple, but it also applied to everything he did in his life. All throughout college, he sought out classes and workshops that would challenge not only the status quo but HIS level of status quo to help him think differently. He would thrive on solving problems that weren’t even something to be solved; he would see things that no-one else saw. Like getting rid of the Walkman and replacing it with an iPod.
As with most visionaries, they tend to live only in their own world and forget that they’re also able to lead others to see their vision and pass on the legacy to keep the fire going. Or perhaps they want to forget that there are others out there, as they get annoyed with others who aren’t able to think at the same fast pace they’re thinking.
In any case, the Apple brand is no longer a SOUL Brand but just a business brand. There is no person with SOUL feeding the Brand with soul and passion. Right now, it’s nothing but a business seeking to survive. Generations on, the Apple brand may not even be synonymous with Steve Jobs and perhaps even put Profit over Purpose. But this goes to prove, in my opinion, that a Brand is a Soul first, business and person second. Or at least should be one if it’s to become a legendary Brand of substance.
That brand of substance – Brand Leadership – it has something wise, legendary and a certain ‘joie-de-vivre’ about it. Kind of like my grey hair strand.
It has that ‘something’. For some, it could mean ageing, for others wisdom, but it definitely arouses the questioning of time, age and maturity. I don’t feel old. But I do feel I’ve gained wisdom over my years, filling me with more depth and soul than I had at 20. The same goes for a brand. It gets better and bolder with time and age as the journey unfolds. But the story certainly isn’t worth being told, if the soul of the brand is missing.
Much like my grey hair has its story to tell – so does your Soul Brand.
LESSON FOR TODAY…
My experience of what a brand is is from my two-decade career in Branding-Marketing-Advertising and Communications. It’s something I’ve observed and experienced through the years. Much the same as you may have experienced and observed brands over the years.
So share with me, in your opinion what YOU believe a brand to be?