The Micro is the Macro
With the goal of simplifying life’s quandaries, I’ve had a long-held belief that in order to understand the large, examine the small–that the universe is generally constructed and behaves as atoms do–that one can learn the fundamental skills necessary to swim the English Channel in a lap pool. So it is with understanding the nature and influence of brands: examine the nature of your personal brand, and the essence of corporate brand psychology, positioning, tonality, and the influence of complementary brands becomes more apparent.
“But I don’t have a brand!”
Au contraire, we all do, and to prove it I invite you to complete a profile on a social networking site like, say, Facebook. Observe yourself as you answer each individual field: Political Views, Religious Views, Interests, Activities, Favorite Music . . . to see just how your brand is constructed, and the energy you’re likely to devote to insuring that You™ is perceived by Me™ accurately, flatteringly, and with a level of complexity and nuance that is likely to leave you slightly anxious and fatigued in the process–at least until you reach the point when (after more revisions than you’ll ever admit) you finally exhale and say, “Yes, that’s Me™.”
So what can you as a branding professional take from this? Try this: create a profile page for your company’s brand, answering the questions as though your brand were a person. What music would your brand listen to? What television show would she watch? Her favorite quote? Her favorite activities? Then find a picture of her. Share this profile with your colleagues, and use it as a point of reference for discussions related to how your brand is constructed and perceived by people vs. how you want it to be perceived. The ensuing discussions will likely be far less abstract and jargon laden than usual, and more human, which, finally, is what the most effective brands are: just like Us™.