One of the things that seems to get ignored in branding is that people are constantly building their own brand … themselves. We are all always assembling a collection of things and experiences and opinions and acquaintances that will communicate who we are to other people. It's difficult to do. As Russell Davies says, you can't dance about architecture. It's hard to find the right combination of elements to express exactly who we are. This seems like it should be important when considering targets and how they will accept a brand. How will this new piece fit into the puzzle that is already in place in their lives? It might be a ridiculous thought, but do characteristics from the collection of brands that we allow into our lives add up to one larger thing … a brand equivalent of Voltron? For instance, I wonder if I have a collection of six brands in my life that all fill permanent needs, where if one left, I'd actively find another one with a similar deep emotional characteristic to fill the void left behind.
Mark Lewis at Planning from the Outside lays down some really smart analysis of how the major record labels made a quick buck, but ended up shooting themselves in the foot by manufacturing boring mass appeal music. Payback … I love it.
I recently watched the documentary about Amish kids called "The Devil's Playground." It explores the Amish practice of rumspringa, which is the period of life Amish kids enter when they turn 16, and don't exit until they decide to join the Amish church, which is something that only those 16 and over are allowed to do. It's a time for them to go out and experience all of what the world has to offer. As one of the kids put it in the film, its a vaccination against temptation. They feel that once they've been able to go out and experience life as a normal American, with cars and video games and alcohol, they will be less susceptible to those temptations once they join the Amish church and renounce all of that. It's kind of a good idea, and I was impressed to find out that their rate of kids joining the church after rumspringa is something like 96%, which is the highest it has ever been since the church was founded in the 1600s. That's incredible, especially given the amount of cool stuff that American society has to offer. The evil planner in me is really curious about how they come across and choose brands to be involved with during this period. Also, it would be the ultimate deprivation study to talk to them after they rejoined the church and had to live without these brands and products. Anywho, it changed a lot of preconceptions that I had about the Amish, and I have a lot more respect for them now than I did before. I recommend checking it out.