Principles of Iconic brand design: Larger than life quality

Returning to the FUSE stage this year is Tess Wicksteed, Strategy Director at Pearlfisher. This time she will be sharing the podium with Tom Barr, VP Coffee Design at Starbucks. Tess's series of blog posts will outline the key brand building principles that can evolve brands from exciting challengers to globally loved icons. Read the whole series here.

Icons are pretty audacious. On one level I think its rather terrible that a brown fizzy drink has the balls to suggest that it holds the key to something as hard and heroic and worthwhile as a harmonious multi cultural society - it feels like the sort of thing that only semi saints like Nelson Mandela should claim. But.......it's how brands work. They are both on a level with us, because they too are ordinary and everyday - and not all that unique - but they get it right when they also manage to speak to our collective desires. To move us and mobilize us towards higher ideals: we can both identify and idealize them.

Forgive me for a UK example - I'II labor it a bit so you can get the point if you don't feel it the way a nation felt it when this advert was released.

Like the World Series and Super Bowl in the US, The World Cup means a lot to people in England - even people who don't usually care that much about soccer care about it and get caught up in the Hoo Ha (terrible team pop songs - team debates - qualifiers - injuries) every pub in england suddenly produces a giant TV screen (which is not normal) and of course our abominable gutter press whip us into a frenzy (England Algeria, Slovenia, Yanks - YOU LET YOUR COUNTRY DOWN).

We are all hoping this time will be our time - when our little island finds a modern expression to live up to its glorious past.

And sadly on this occasion our hopes were resting on a very average little chap called Wayne Rooney - plain, rather uncouth, not very charming, ignorant and a little bit violent BUT a brilliant inspired footballer. NIKE puts up huge billboards around London with this average little chap posing as Jesus - bellowing with the raw emotion of how much he wants to win - of how much we want him to win - crucified by the St Georges cross which looks like blood - its outrageous - its sacrilegious but its sort of true - he could be our saviour - in the end he wasn't but for a while we believed in him and we were grateful that Nike did too.

Its a fine line when you start messing with the big stuff. Its the reason I want clever people to be in branding and not just save themselves for the rarefied stuff, because the way brands express themselves matters.

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