Updated: May 4
All of them want to build some kind of legacy, but at the very least you need to be memorable to do so.
It's a real irony that we live in a world that has so many ways to tell stories and yet so many brands fall so short.. I think they fundamentally don't understand that a good story needs to be interesting.
Of course every brand is interesting at first - you're new, there’s a story around who you are but
then that story runs thin quite quickly. And that’s when you have to find ways to be interested and interesting.
Some brands have interest built in by virtue of what they do. Television streaming services, like Netflix and BritBox; or Spotify and Deezer; or fashion brands - they all have interest built into what they’re selling: Movies are inherently interesting with a myriad of stories - the cast, the production; the writer; as are musicians, and podcasts and design.
Other brands make themselves interesting. Red Bull created interest by focusing not on product but on supporting extreme sport and culture; which is inherently interesting. Nandos too - they found a position and stuck to it cleverly with high standards. Rolex and its mentor programme. Even banking can be interesting. Standard Bank has made itself interested and interesting by sponsoring the arts for the past 40 years. They have given voice to and flight to nearly every successful artist across all the major disciplines. They have never stood in the way and grandstanded themselves, rather sincerely put their money behind an inherently interesting story - the arts. And their investment has been repaid 100 fold I imagine.
But then there's a whole category of brands that are uninteresting. Well let me rephrase that, they allow themselves to be so. And surprisingly alcohol falls into that category a lot of the time. FMCG too. Once they’ve told the creation story there's not much more that's interesting to say about themselves. And yet they’re very active in trying to get attention. But mostly they all seem to be saying the same thing - jumping on to what everyone else is doing, even though they all ask for ‘out of the box thinking’. They all chase youth culture - music (hip hop), fashion (street) and parties (limited edition) often with such undistinguished and short term thinking. Or they veer off into bizarre territory - like hosting a talk show on a billboard. That was just never going to be interesting. And I suspect the talk show wasn't either if you have to rely on location as the story.
Not all of them of course; Absolut and Khuli Chana with One Source did something interesting - it went too far in the end, but people sat up and took notice. Castle Lite Unlocks goes big to be interesting.
And my view is if you are going to go out and spend a lot of money marketing yourself then put it to interesting use. Brands really should do their own bidding and think “out of their box” - do brave things, do socially good things; give your name and power and influence to people doing interesting things; get behind the arts, get behind science, education; but not just for today and the moment, but for the long haul. You’ll be surprised, the interest will rub off on you and the story will do the heavy lifting. (But you’ve also got to know how to tell that story - but that's for another time )
You don't just create a legacy . You need to be memorable to do so.