︎ Ecological, emotional, punk, whatever. Want your brand to be a brand?
Written by Giacomo Felace
I’ve been talking a lot in the last year with entrepreneurs and interesting personalities around the globe in an attempt to articulate what connects people with organizations and what connects clients with brands. Do companies are brands?
Does branding exist, or is it just a placeholder for our ignorance?
Do branding consultants use branding?
Are we hearing voices, doing voices, or both?
The fundamental element of branding is the ability to manifest or sublimate things, whether they’re emotions, states of being, people, or a tropical island. Branding is the art of making things appear or disappear, out of nowhere or into the void. This magic, the lady-in-a-box, rabbit-in-a-hat form of branding, is predicated on two questions: where did she go? And how did we get here?
Like many organized-crime enterprises, branding uses the alchemical quality of group dynamics to transform inside jokes, gossip, and petty infighting into advice fit for a political party leader. Branding processes groupthink as poetry. Its pronouncements containerize ambiguity. Branding’s way of creating new things in the world is to convert nonsense into sense. Branding, at its core, is the act of influencing perception. Where marketing and advertising emphasize the extraction of value, branding focuses on strategically building value from the ground up: rather than measuring success through an economic lens, the impact of branding can be considered first and foremost as cultural.
Cultural impact is what happens after will. It’s the antidote to the tryhard problems that come with overthinking everything. If you really want change you have to go deeper.
Like branding, cultural impact is mostly concerned with inception. But where branding is about implanting ideas in the brains of an audience, cultural impact is about implanting ideas into your own system. Both practices depend heavily on the creation of pillars and mantras. Organizations with a strong sense of what they are will adapt to change far better than those without. These are brands with the most potential for cultural impact.
Unless your team truly believes in it, the reality is that your organization is nothing but a nice Instagram page or PDF presentation.In short: cultural impact always starts from within your own company culture, from within your four walls.
When a company’s vision is clear, inclusive, and honest, team members are more likely to feel a sense of belonging and pride in that group of people. A manifesto may look nice on a website but if it isn’t grounded in reality—and actively upheld by its creators—then it’s really just a stupid concept. When that manifesto plays out in the day-to-day operations of a business, however, that influence naturally ripples outward and enables public perceptions to shift. This is where branding and cultural impact really begin.
A company, for all his wishful and perhaps powerless thinking, must look around for other narrow spaces that might be available, to take the only available path, that of “challenging” and “provoking” calling for the direct support of the people around it.
I believe that a brand and its impact can’t be manufactured—it must be revealed, cultivated, and continually built upon over time. Branding is a process of uncovering something that’s already there, articulating it clearly, and crating its place in the cultural landscape.
I always encourage brands to be honest about who they are and what they offer, but it’s a fine line: do we always know our deep essence and where we want to go? At the core of cultural impact is subculture.
Making an impact on your own place.
Being authentic doesn't mean looking nice and clean. It doesn’t mean mainstream appeal. If you feel punk, be punk!
The meaning of brand impact will inevitably vary in every time, space and cultural context. But when it comes down to it, brand impact isn’t about having the widest reach or being everything to everyone: it’s about building your tribe, knowing your space, and embracing it in every step of your path.
We should learn how to see here in order to be able to hear elsewhere. Learn how to hear ourselves speaking in order to be able to see what others are doing. The others: the elsewhere of our here.