The Science of Brand Intuition

Brand onion. Brand Pyramid. Brand DNA. Values. Attributes. Mission Statements. Value Equations. Let’s face it there are a million and one ways to define, articulate or compose a brand.

But in reality intuition plays a key role in defining the fundamentals of your brand. And there are some basic intuitive factors that together can form a very compelling story.

But beware. There are pitfalls. We don’t want to dwell on them at the risk of preaching old news, though they are worth a mention.

Ownability. Individually the facets of your brand may not be wholly unique. However collectively they must recount a story that only you can tell with any conviction or believability.

Truth: Nothing about a brand can be made up or manufactured. What you say must be grounded in reality. The compelling story is there, uncovering it and telling it is the trick.

Relevance: What you think is the most amazing, unique and compelling of stories may not necessarily be what the world has been waiting for. Just be ready to check yourself and your notions to ensure there is a willing and engaged audience for them.

White Space. What do you do that no one else does? Do what you’ve always done, and you’ll get what you’ve always got, as some wise person once said! So how are you going to stand out? What is it about you that is truly different, what void do you fill?

So, we know what not to do! But how to bring it together? Brands are much like people and there are some reasonably simplistic traits that define us. How we look, dress, speak, our belief systems, what we stand up for and how we behave.

Firstly, our voice. What we say, but importantly how we say it. The nuances of a carefully chosen word, a well timed pause, or a delivery style - be it casual, bombastic, humorous or stern - can be resounding. ‘We often refuse to accept an idea merely because the tone of voice in which it has been expressed is unsympathetic to us’, Friedrich Nietzsche.

Personality is defined as the combination of characteristics or qualities that form an individual’s distinctive character. It comes from the latin personalis or ‘of a person’ and is a factor that distinguishes us as being human rather than animal. By definition, it is what makes your brand human or at least gives it human appeal. It is what lends the layering, complexity, intrigue, and appeal that draws us in.

Whilst personality is often seen as something intrinsic and intangible. There are also more outward and discernible elements to brand, termed it’s style. And as a purveyor of style, Ralph Lauren said, ‘Style is very personal. It has nothing to do with fashion. Fashion is over quickly. Style is forever.’ That is to say that the style of a brand isn’t superficial or short lived. The visual language through which it communicates is powerful, instantaneous, instinctive and enduring. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words (some cliches are still worth quoting!).

But more so than our personality or style, it is our capacity for abstract thought that makes us both human, as well as attractive and empathetic to others. To share a belief system and greater purpose is what unites us. Tribes are formed, affiliations are made, and bonds are fused that have a power beyond rationale or reason.

And brand, as one of the most powerful of human concepts, can drive an irrational and unshakeable loyalty too. Your brand’s belief - the compelling, unifying idea that drives it’s actions - and it’s purpose - the reason it gets out of it’s proverbial bed in the morning - is when things start to get really interesting. When it starts to gain a following, incite a passion and gain a profound irrational connection with others.

So... voice, personality, style, belief and purpose. Individually they are all very interesting. But the sum is indeed greater than its parts. And collectively they start to create something very ownable, honest, resonating and unique. Together they form an essence, something that makes their owner very special. And to articulate that essence is to bottle your brand. To manifest it’s idyocyncratic self as something that will intuitively connect with others. Creating bonds that are difficult to break. And delivering loyalty and success which is well worth composing the story for.


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