For the last couple of weeks, I have been taking a class about brand development called PLAY: Unlocking Brand and Behavior.
Although the class is addressing what it means to build a brand, many of the lessons have been centered around what it means to be human. It has been an addicting journey that has explored the psychology behind everything we do, think, and create.
In this class, our working definition of a brand is a gut feeling that someone has about a product, service, or organization. It is not an idea, logo, or product, but the actual feeling. For example, when you think of Nike, the first thing that you think of might be running shoes, but you also feel something about the company that you can’t necessarily articulate in words; a feeling that makes you trust the organization with who they say they are.
This feeling, when it has a positive impression, is what develops an idea, product, or organization into a powerful symbol. When an idea or concept becomes a symbol, it becomes a means of communication to audiences far and between.
For example, when Apple develops products, they develop for an individual of a certain nature. An individual who is not afraid to try things differently. A passionate person who believes in changing the world for the better.
Now, you might ask, how do I know that’s their target audience? Take Steve Jobs’ word for it:
“To make a contribution to the world by making tools for the mind that advance humankind.”
In a few words, Jobs describes the vast nature of Apple’s mission but also specifies by mentioning the minds “that advance humankind.” In doing so, he plants the core values of the organization for everyone else to see, investigate, and eventually upon validation, come into terms with when they think of Apple.
This is specially reinforced in 1984, when Apple launched the infamous Super Bowl ad, “Think different.” In the ad, they not only communicate their ideas through influential and empowering figures, but they also leave a feeling within each and every individual who saw the ad.