Unyeilding Originality

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.

We've alluded to this one already. Iconic brands have purpose. They chart their own destiny and do not follow others. Instead, they force others to follow them. Their job is to express their purpose with total originality time and time again. This needs to be done through the way they re-express their core visual equities (design), through innovative new product ideas and through new cultural meanings (communications).

Stella Artois is a good example. Its purpose is really embarrassingly functional - it's about being a premium beer. Here the idea of being more expensive than other mainstream beers is transformed into the true meaning of value - what would you do for a Stella? Their latest campaign brings a totally original perspective to this concept. Uncowed by the incredible success of the long running campaign that preceded it - hard thinking paid off - their new campaign is beautiful but mainly a really brilliant and original piece of thinking.

Beer as a category trades on excluding women; creating a safe space for men to bond and be rewarded - beer is everyday in its demotic: common, down to earth, jokey. If Stella's role is to elevate the product, showing it to be worth more than other beers (and simultaneously challenging its UK based wife-beater image) to draw an explicit analogy between it and a much adored goddess is the last thing you'd expect. It works from the product point of view too: revere it, worship it, adore it but ultimately...devour it!

 ABSOLUT is another brand that used to pride itself on originality - understanding that the key advantage of vodka was its versatility, it made a name for itself for showcasing and championing creativity - constantly reinventing and filling its icon with new meaning. These days their originality is not up to snuff. It needs to do a "Stella", to think harder and take a radical new position on creativity. After all, we can all agree that unyeilding originality is essential for iconic behavior but we could all do with a bit of inspiration as to what it actually is.



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