Before the Honda Jazz was called the Honda Jazz, it was called the Honda Fit. It was only after they launched it as the Honda Fitta into European markets that they realised that “fitta” translates to mean female genitalia in Swedish.
Another car, the Cherovlet Nova sold quite poorly in Latin America because “no va” reads “won’t go” in Spanish.
Coca-Cola, which at its invention meant little in English translates roughly to “bite the wax tadpole” in Chinese. It has since been transliterated into English as “ke kou ke le”, which means something more along the lines of “happiness in the mouth.” Far more appealing.
It goes to show that sometimes the things we build can sometimes grow beyond our own sensibilities.
The world is wide and we will only every be familiar with but a tiny portion.
Brands, however, possess the innate ability to be familiar almost everywhere.
What people think and, more importantly, how people feel when they hear your name is that brand.
It’s got nothing to do with who we think we are and everything to do with who we actually are to other people.
Are we reliable? Trustworthy?Charming? Funny?
Not unless someone else thinks so. Self belief might inspire our action, but it’s our actions which inspire our reputations. Which, in turn, define us.
We are responsible for cultivating our reputation, but we don’t get the privilege of disagreeing with it once it’s out there.
We can seek to improve our reputation, but there is no sense in refuting it.
It just is.
If who we think we are doesn’t matter, then perhaps we should do less thinking about who we are today or who we were ten years ago, and more thinking about who we might aspire to be for someone else tomorrow.
The influencer dynamic plaguing modern marketing is shallow, but it sells units.
Influencers act as conduits for buyer’s attention.
Which at it’s core makes sense, right?
You see a cool Instagram page which represents your interests, and you follow it.
If they have a big enough following, brands who want to reach people interested in things relevant to the page reach out, and the page gets compensated for putting the brand in view of people likely to be interested in their products (aka you).
The problem is that these pages are usually compensated for their reach, not their quality.
The result is that influencers tend to race for cheap attention rather than fostering deeply engaged communities.
Those who hack the system to demand your attention get preference over those taking their time to foster communities – even when the former are wasting your attention in the process.
Influencing and leading are not the synonymous.
Influencers are out to sell your attention to the highest bidder.
Brain Pickings is a curation of deep dives into the work of great thinkers (often writers, poets or philosophers) by Maria Popova. Maria writes with a distinctive style which I admire greatly, and creates intricate networks throughout her blog by meticulously linking articles and topics to one another.
Tim Ferris is a well known author, entrepreneur and self described ‘human guinea pig’. His blog is the home to his widely successful podcast, The Tim Ferris Show, where he seeks to unpack the successful habits of world class performers. I regularly listen to his podcasts, and find his cataloguing of show notes on the blog to be an invaluable resource.
A tension washed over the room as people tried to remember the precise wording of their organisation’s mission statement and values. People sat up in their seats and Michel gave us a clinic on brand.
Her lightning efficient talk made the case that brand(ing) is not something you do in a wishy-washy hope to better define or promote your organisation’s objectives.
She argues that we shouldn’t even use the word branding, because brand is not a verb.
Publicising is not brand. Developing a style guide is not brand. And coming up with a fluffy mission statement and a list of values for your employees to memorise before their interviews and then disregard is definitely not brand.
Because brand isan output, not an input.
‘Brand is a result of the promises you keep.’
It’s not something you can define, because it’s defined by your action.
This is severely important, and intensely motivating.
For anyone else who loves a mathematic visualisation, Michel has synthesised her thoughts on what makes a brand into the following formula, where;
i = Identity (your purpose and values)
p = Promises (what you say you do)
e = Experience (what you actually do)
b = Brand (your reputation)
Identity is important because if your brand revolves around killing puppies, it doesn’t matter how good you are at it.
It also helps if you care about whatever it is that you’re identifying yourself as. It’ll make it much easier to keep your promises.
‘When you take what you care about and use it to help shape the promises you make, you’re more likely to keep them.’
This is the first post distilling my learnings from the REMIX Academy Summit I attended earlier in the week. I’ll put links to all the talks I summarise in the post I made on the day of the event for easy referencing.