A conversation about mature brands: A Reflection Truth

Posted on 9 oktober, 2015 by Reflection Company

Linda Nordfors intervjued by a sceptical mind.

When you talk and write about brands it is like you talk about them as humans, as something living. How can they be? A brand is not alive.

– I think brands are alive, and there are many signs that they are, if we pay attention. A brand comes into existence and they can also disappear, it is like birth and death. It changes over time, it can grow and mature or it can grow and become a powerful yet immature force. A brand is of course not a person, a human, which I want to stretch. But it is quite common to describe a brand as a person, it can be a helpful way to get closer to the true core of the brand. But it is just a method, in the same way as it would be to describe the brand as an animal or a plant.

– We (humans) can have a hard time grasping a force that we on one level can feel, on another level we can´t find it in the physical universe, when we start looking. That is why I think many people project the whole force of the brand on the trademark, it is a simplification that we somehow can understand. But what happens is that we mistake the sign for the reality. Similar things happen in many religions or traditions. The symbol or the person becomes the religion. If you listen with attention to the great spiritual leaders, they all emphasize that they as persons are not important. If they think they are, it is mostly a sign that they are not that spiritual after all. However, most brands do not grow but remain pretty small and with very limited influence on the people connected with.

What kind of influence can a brand really have, are we not smarter than that?

– You mean that we, as consumers, don´t buy the illusion that brands give us? Of course we do! We love to buy that ”illusion” – which make it into no illusion at all, but into a real force that affect real people to act and do real things. It is true that maybe we do not ”buy” the brand as the brand owner’s want it to appear, but we really believe in the brand-story that we have made ourselves in our minds. In fact, we would not survive without believing those stories, because they make the world understandable, even if it is a simplification. The option would be to relate to everything around us as if it was for the very first time and we didn’t know anything about it. That would take a lot of attention and energy, and it would drive us crazy.

But don’t you think there are too many brands in the world? Too much consumerism? Too much superficial focus? You yourself talk about ”the biggest challenge for the human race” to handle the future market expansion. (RIWArts project, editors note.)

– I don´t believe that creating more brands is the solution. Nor do I believe that taking brands away (if we could) would be a step in the right direction. More or fewer brands are irrelevant. What I really think DOES matter is how mature the brands are. Mature brands help the human consciousness to expand, because we are intimately interrelated.

How do you mean that we are intimately interrelated?

– Humans create brands. And then the brands affect the humans, witch in turn affect the brands again. The brand can be connected to thoughts, emotions and the physical senses. I call it mind, heart and body. Brands that have a great influence on us affect us on all levels, and we connect back, on all levels.

I know that branding is a big thing in marketing, but I still can´t put the pieces together. A brand does not have a body, it cannot really DO anything without our help!

– It is true that it cannot do anything without our help, as you put it. But it doesn’t need to, we are willing, or unwilling, to do it for them. We relate to them and through that they get a life. And a brand does have a body. When I do the Brand Matrix together with clients, we talk a lot about the body of their brand. The body of a brand can be everything from the trademark, business card or the factory, to the people who work there.

People can´t really be a part of a brand!

– Of course they can. Not totally and always, but partially and sometimes, we can hardly avoid it. And you don´t need to be hired by a brand to be a part of it, a lot of the time it is enough to be a buyer, a consumer. Look around, a lot of people, almost everyone in the post industrialized society, use brands to build their own, personal brands. That is why we like logos on stuff. Some are big and bold and noisy, some are small and discrete and stylish. You may prefer the former or the latter, it does not really matter, the phenomena are the same. And having a logo on something is just one way, and a kind of immature and obvious way, of being a part of a brand. Most brand connections that we have cannot be seen at all.

Back to what you said before, what differs a mature brand from an immature brand?

– The easiest way to describe the difference is by describing the extremes, the very immature and the very mature brand. In reality, many brands are somewhere in between, and also slides on the scale somewhat, depending on the situation and whom you ask.

(Read part two here.)

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