Brand: creating certainty in an uncertain world.
To the casual observer people can behave a little ‘odd’ sometimes. Don’t get me wrong – individually most people are likeable, decent enough and inspiring company (apart from the narcissists – best avoided) but get more than a few strangers into a room together and things can change dramatically. It’s true though – most people are jittery, irrational, panicky and reactive animals. No judgement here – its just the way it is.
Innately we seem to be slaves to our core desires, hopes, deep fears and dark insecurities which shape our behaviour and reactions to events outside of our perceived ‘control’.
What has this got to do with brand and branding? Everything.
Effective branding provides to most of us a core need or desire that we privately and secretly long for – that’s to say ‘certainty’ but it extends and morphs into security, dependability, reliability, consistency, peace of mind or a fixed point of reference. All rooted in fear. No surprises. No shocks. No stress. The ability to know what will happen in life and in business from one moment to the next is very reassuring and appealing to many people. Its fair to say that today an ‘orderly’, predictable, certain life is an ideal that most people aspire to but few achieve. I’ve heard its actually no fun. However unrealistic this ‘thinking’ may be (change is life and life is change) its a real pain point and fear for many.
Which is why creating a brand that leverages and harnesses this need for certainty and that provides a consistency of message, story, experience and expectation time and time again is critical for your long-term brand success.
At the same time he was building his vast real estate empire, ‘Ray’ Kroc also mass-produced burgers. His secret lay in the fact that he successfully mechanised the whole process so that even a child could understand and ‘work’ the process. In doing so (intentionally or not) Ray Kroc also produced certainty. How?
Well, the burgers at the Golden Arches are a good burger, but let’s be honest, they’re not great. You only have to compare the marketing collateral to the reality to see it doesn’t quite add up. (No wonder people are disappointed with the real world!). You can buy better, tastier, leaner, healthier burgers elsewhere from smaller up-market places such as Huxtaburger in Melbourne or Burgerlicious in Sydney where a focus on perceived quality is the key driver. However, if you travel to the far reaches of this tiny rock, chances are you’ll successfully source a branch of this well-known fast food franchise. Enter said global-reaching brands’ clean and sterile establishment, experience temporary culture shock with familiar looking logo and images on the menu counter, shop front and signage, yet accompanied with strange yet oddly familiar looking indecipherable foreign words, and then smile and point to the image of a Cheeseburger for the bemused looking attendant. (Those who know ‘know’ because we’ve been there).
You’ll soon be presented and rewarded with a familiar looking and (crucially) familiar tasting icon of the fast-food world. Despite being in an ‘alien’ world yourself relief and joy follows. Everything is as it should be. The sky is not falling in. No Michelin stars here for the world’s best burger of course, but accolades and top marks for delivering a consistent and reliable product. There’s a huge market out there for consistent delivery and McDonald’s certainly know how to deliver ‘consistency’. Adding an element of ‘certainty’ to your brand ensures you not only keep your brand relevant but keeps yourself fed in more ways than one.
Essentially one huge factor why a successful brand is ‘successful’ (and by ‘success’ I mean it resonates with its ideal audience and in turn it generates potentially untapped revenue) is because it is perceived to satisfy, solve or alleviate people’s fears or problems.
Certainty from a brand perspective, or ‘the firm conviction that something is deemed to be reliably true’, is something that needs to be cultivated, nurtured and grown over many years, but which equally can be lost in one minute.
In the increasingly uncertain world that we all live in, brand is an even more powerful business tool. Given the right amount of investment and managed effectively, your brand can allay and overcome people’s intrinsic fears. Furthermore, a strong brand, strategically positioned, has the ability to resonate with and reassure those prone to jitteriness, panic and over reaction. Finally, in our globally connected world, its perhaps small peace of mind knowing that brand can also be a safe-haven and sanctuary for the world’s tourists! Happy back-packing out there.
I hope you enjoyed, gained some benefit or learned something new, insightful or useful from this blog.
As The Brand Entrepreneur, I believe in helping busy business owners and savvy entrepreneurs to ‘market smarter’ for sustained business growth. I do this by deeply defining and finding their ‘ideal’ customer with The ‘My Avatar’ Workshop. Successful brands in the future care about customers, not branding. I believe that future is now. I’m passionate and focused on creating brand stories & design assets that help brands get ‘in sync’ and connected to ‘customers they care’ about.
Jamie Thomas – The Brand Entrepreneur