It’s one thing to understand that a brand is how people feel about a thing, but it’s another thing to fully grasp the implications of that and fit it into one’s worldview. One thread I’ve been pulling on for a long time is to find the perfect metaphor for brand. It’s been a fun but frustrating mental exercise.
To fully capture the concept of brand, we must represent not just the thing, but how people feel about it. It’s the reaction to the action, the context to the text, the ground to the figure. Yet those comparisons are imperfect, since a brand exists in some sense independently of its stimulus.
I’ve cycled through a lot of metaphors — echolocation, chemical reactions, the electromagnetic spectrum, holograms, dark matter — and it’s been fun to think about, but I haven’t nailed it yet. I’ll keep trying.
But suffice it to say this: to fully understand brand, you need to see not just what’s there, but the effect it has on the world around it. And when that clicks, you’ll look at everything a bit differently. You’ll see there’s McDonald’s, and there’s how you feel about McDonald’s; there’s the trusty Honda you drive to work each day, and there’s how you feel about your Honda; there’s your family, and there’s how you feel about your family.
Once you have the ability to see the world that way, you have the power to influence it. And that’s when the fun begins.
Also published on Medium.