The Brands That You Live For

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I watched the documentary Citizenfour the other night.

It was on Netflix. It’s from 2014. It’s a documentary about Edward Snowden. There are lots of movies about this topic. I haven’t seen them all. You know how it is… you save a bunch of movies to your list on Netflix, and you eventually get tired of the endless scroll. I clicked on it. I didn’t know what I was getting into. I just wanted to watch something that would be mentally stimulating. As the opening credits started to roll, I saw that it was produced by Participant Media. I got much more excited about the movie. I became… hopeful.

I said something to myself. It was under my breath. I remember saying it.

I said, “I’ll watch anything by Participant Media.” I don’t know where that line came from. But, I saw the brand “Participant Media” and I thought about the movie, An Inconvenient Truth, and the many other films that I have enjoyed from this company. They’re not all documentaries, they’re not all top-shelf… but they do make you think about culture, society, justice and more. It stopped me dead in my tracks. I paused the movie (yes, before it started) and grabbed my notebook. I started listing out other brands that I feel this way about.

The list was short.

The list was powerful. I really, really like the brands on this list (I love them). How about you? Are there any brands that you will (basically) blindly follow? I’ve written before about my passion for note taking and the products that Field Notes put into the marketplace. I like that brand so much that I subscribe to their products. Literally. I pay an annual fee – up front – to get whatever they put out. It doesn’t end there. Field Notes will often add different lines of notebooks and pens. I’ll pick those up too. I don’t just trust the brand. I want everything that they put out. I want to support them. I want to be their customer. I want them to be successful. We see this behaviour more commonly with fashion, sport and music brands, but there’s an attitude… an ideology… that we should not so easily dismiss about the power of brands.

Think about this: do your customers feel this way about your products or services?

Probably not. It’s probably not a reasonable expectation. It’s not like customers will buy anything put out by an accounting software package… or their dry cleaners. Or… would they? I don’t really need another notebook. There are plenty of other producers and films to watch on Netflix. Maybe you can create things – products and/or services – that truly capture your consumer’s love and affection to the point that they’re buying based on the brand and not the product or services. 

Tell me what you want… what you really, really want.

It’s often not the really big things that grab the consumer. It’s the little things. It’s the smart and nuanced ways that a brand connects their consumers to the products and services. It’s easy to think that you probably can’t make consumers have that mindset of, “whatever you put out, I will buy from you…” but why not start there? Why not imagine what you could do, if you didn’t hold those preconceived notions about your brand? You don’t need everyone to feel this way about your brand, either. You just need your customers to connect and expect that kind of experience. This is where most brand planning falls down. The optics are focused on the current quarter, the running campaign and the quarterly earnings… and not on what the brand is doing – day in and day out – to make their wares connect in a more profound way with their consumers.

Digital marketing won’t save you. 

Your marketing and advertising is all about how your message gets placed in the marketplace. Being witty with content or quick to respond on Twitter is core to the brand experience, but it’s not the entire brand experience. Too many brands think that they can save themselves and win favours with a viral Super Bowl ad. They won’t. But this is a new day. You can decide… now… today… in this moment… to think about this tremendous branding opportunity. Few brands do it. They’re trapped. They feel that that they either need to spend ad dollars against their work, and make more noise in the marketplace, or that they try to do something completely new and different. You can brand better. You can brand more. 

Make your brand a brand that others live for. Why not try?