BRANDING at PR Salon #5 – Pakhuis de Zwijger // Amsterdam

PR Salon #5 – Pakhuis de Zwijger // Amsterdam - 06-06-2013


“There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fussy concept.” Ansel Adams, as told by Mac Macdonald – Sid Lee Amsterdam


I’m guessing you’ve already deduced the topic for the lectures/discussions I went to this Thursday. Yes indeed, Branding! These are difficult times for a brand to stick to the surface of people’s minds. We are being bombarded with communication and branded messages. However, branding has become the semiotic foundation of our society. We base our (subconscious) decisions on the impulses that we receive from others, meaning that in this communication (or sponsored message) dense society most of those impulses come from brands. We all know the difference between a Volkswagen and an Audi – but they are both cars, have the same purpose or goal and fulfill the same need. Branding gives us understanding, clarity and even control or peace of mind.


How do brands achieve this? By building a strong authentic character and sticking to it. Take a typical concept of a Sage: a wise man who gives good advice and leads to the path of righteousness. We can place ourselves in the shoes of that particular character. We can identify ourselves with the character.  As Ivo van den Brand (Senior Global PR Manager, Philips Consumer Lifestyle) put it “What would Obi-Wan Kenobi do?” He explained that for Philips Men Grooming they chose the ‘sage’ Obi-wan Kenobi. Every communication and problem (internal or external) is solved by asking the same question “What would Obi-Wan Kenobi do?” Nike has based their character on a hero and Apple works with the ‘saint’ (note how all Apple stores are build up like a catholic church).


When a brand identifies itself with a character and sticks to it, people will understand what the brand is about.  They can relate and emphasize. Now, how does this relate to personal branding? How can we see ourselves as a brand and in these harsh times and promote our services and products?


I see myself as a person with different faces. All of these faces that I possess make up the total of my identity. I have a different face for different situations and different goals or objectives. If I need to make an impression, to sell something or to get funding I act or react differently than when I’m in a club, trying to find my prince charming. You could go as far as saying I become the actor in the role of myself. Now stop right there! This is not as easy as it sounds. The role of yourself still needs to be authentic and genuine. You cannot be somebody else. You still need to be able to provide backup stories and evidence.


However, this raises a cool topic. I’d like to do an experiment for my own personal branding. What If I become somebody else? What if I can convince others that I am a successful millionaire, or a big organization founder? A different name, a different concept and visual? Would this in itself be evidence of my communication and concept generative skills? Or would people be offended by the disingenuous performance?


Something to think about and experiment with…


Ga terug