When you get up in the morning and look in the bathroom mirror, what brand do you see?
Bright and fresh (or gloomily pre-coffee) you see someone you know very well. It is the same person that once met a famous movie star in a breadline in Paris. It is the same person who had her first kiss in a darkened movie theatre. It the guy who crashed his old car and traded it in for a better one.
You see a person with friends, family, a history, a place of origin, a culture, and a recognizable personality. And you see this person with all of those details and all of the richness of identity immediately. The stories are not formulated into words because you know them intimately.
It is you.
But what would happen if you looked in the mirror and saw someone else? Another face. Another person whom you never met!
First (after initially freaking out because someone else is looking at you from your mirror!) you would scrutinize the face to see if you recognize him or her. Do I know this person? Did I meet this person at a party last Thursday after too much beer? Is it my brother? My sister? My next door neighbor?
You need to find a context for this face. You need to be able to place him or her inside your understanding of the world. If, as it turns out, this is a perfect stranger, you might then ask yourself if you like him or her. Are they attractive to you? Do they appeal to you on any kind of level? Do you feel anything about them?
Would you buy a used car from him?
These are just some of the questions that might spring to mind when you first look into a stranger’s face. You need to figure out – either consciously or subconsciously – if you want to meet this person. You might immediately speak to them, introduce yourself. Or you might file them away to talk to again later or some other day. Or never again.
This is the dilemma a new brand faces. We look at it, and a choice has to be made – to look more or to skip over it. If we look more, we want to see how it fits into our lives. We might then engage it and learn its stories. And, lo and behold, we find we have things in common!
“I also once had a problem getting grape jelly out of my nice white shirt! Thank you, Merix!”
Meeting a new brand is not like looking in the mirror. In the mirror, we see ourselves and we are, like it or not, a brand that we know pretty well already. All we have to do is glance and the rich history of you-as-brand takes wing. The work of your own brand building has been happening for years beforehand.
A new brand, a new person, is a potential friend, lover, enemy, rival, wing-man, accomplice, or colleague. The work of getting to know that identity – as well as you know yourself – is a matter of choice.
First impression? Exactly!
The Belgian painter Rene Magritte, a huge inspiration for me, did a lot of work with portraits of people without faces. In the one above (“The Lovers”, 1928), we see two lovers with covered faces. Naturally we are curious – who are they? why are they covered? what is going on here? Magritte himself is no help. He said:
“My painting is visible images which conceal nothing. They evoke mystery and, indeed, when one sees one of my pictures, one asks oneself this simple question, ‘What does it mean?’ It does not mean anything, because mystery means nothing either, it is unknowable.”
In showing us Mystery, he introduces us to its opposite: Resolution! If a new brand is a mystery, then it remains a mystery unless we are driven to figure out what it is and grant it a place in our lives. We must feel something about it if we are going to embrace it.
Before the work of selling and promoting your new brand, therefore, it is crucial to introduce its mystery and evoke in us the desire to understand, to know more, to learn its Identity – secret or otherwise! If you have not settled that question in your mind and in your heart, why would you ever think about engaging (buying) it?
Because the face you see in the mirror could turn out to be your best friend!
Questions about your brand? Want to launch something new? Contact notapipe brand consulting today and we will assess your situation, give a frank appraisal, and real ideas and usable suggestions about how we could work together to make your brand the best it can be!
GREAT ARTICLE! PUTS BRANDING INTO A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE. THX 🙂