The horrible flu took me last Monday. I know, I should be ready for any obstacle such as falling ill on publishing days. But, to be honest, I wasn’t; all I had was a shitty post and fever. Bring it on Monday.
When I get the flu, at my lowest illness point I usually feel like a brainless-waste, so all I wanted to could do with a shitty post and no energy, was to scroll down on Instagram with a random Disney movie in the background. Maybe not that random; maybe it was Beauty and the Beast...nonstop. For hours. Thank heavens I don't fall ill very often.
During those low-peak moments this week, while scrolling up and down my newsfeed and looking at wonderful profiles from influencers and perfectly arranged tables with succulent food (those that you would always want to get but never will because they already have stains of wine and you can’t take them out –just saying–), I couldn't help but think of how much impact branding has on all of us nowadays.
The reason why branding is one of the subjects that passionate me the most, is not because of the brands, but what is behind them, the ability they have to stick in our minds and alter patterns of behaviour. Think of Chanel, who created and re-created the liberated woman, once in the 20s and twice in the 60s. Because branding, if it’s good, not only sticks to an image, but can change societies. And that is what gives goosebumps and led me to take the subject to a Master’s degree level (I know, I’m such a freak).
But, first of all, to truly understand what a brand is I needed a definition, and this is what I got from The American Marketing Association:
“A name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies as one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers (…). A brand may identify one item, a family of items, or all items of that seller.”
Tadaah. Branding is the spark that creates distinction.
When we think about them, we don’t really come up with a product, but with a story, a spirit, a personality that resonates from the brand. So even though Dolce and Gabbana and Prada are two Italian luxury brands, we don't put them in the same box. When I think about the first one we can’t help but picture the image of the voluptuous Italian women dressed in tight dresses coming from a Fellini movie. However, when I think of Prada, then that’s a different story; smart, slender women with big sunglasses having an espresso in Milan with their big leather bags. Even though collections vary, the image at the back of my brain doesn’t tend to change. Subtly -or not that subtly- we associate those big fashion luxury brands with a socio-cultural identity they project. Dolce&Gabbana = Sicily; Prada = Milan; Chanel = Paris.
And when that happens, is when we know branding goes beyond excellence.
Going back to the human world, branding is mostly reflected in social networks: this parallel-reality universe where big planets -i.e. influencers- attract certain satellites who navigate around them, and to some extent imitate and copy take inspiration from them -i.e. everyone else who is not an influencer. And yes, even though we all want to make an impact, the truth is, only few actually do. Me, personally, after painfully realising that no one –besides my family and friends– will see my illustrations because algorithms are hiding me under pictures of fluffy cats, I decided to be an observer, a virtual anthropologist of the Instagram tribe. And in the meantime I also post my illustrations. It works better for me this way.
Therefore, as an observer of this tribe, I reached the conclusion that now, more than ever, we all have a brand, due to one simple reason: we expose ourselves in a certain way through social networks. In the same way as the big brands such as Chanel, Coca-Cola or Apple, which have very clear and distinct features, which people would easily identify, don’t we have features that distinguish ourselves among the rest?
I firmly believe so, although we need to know ourselves in order to understand what is the brand we want to project, and to do so we have to figure what is that essence which makes each one of us unique. Not an easy job but, as Coldplay says: 'nobody said it was easy'.