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How can you make a brand legendary?

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What is a brand, and more particularly, what makes one stand out as something worthwhile?  Much of the literature on branding suggests you need a clear and well-defined image.  You need something you stand for that people can get behind.

Some new research  suggests however that this may be wide of the mark.  Instead, they believe the key to great branding is the myth you can create around your company or product.

The example they cite is that of the Titanic, the infamous cruise liner and star of a Hollywood blockbuster.  More than a century later, the researchers said the name of the ill-fated steamship still strikes a chord with millions of consumers worldwide.

“Consumer fixation with the Titanic is not simply due to the scale of the calamity, since the death toll has been far exceeded on many occasions,” the study’s authors, Stephen Brown of the University of Ulster, Pierre McDonagh of Dublin City University and Clifford Shultz II of Loyola University Chicago, wrote. “Nor is it entirely attributable to humankind’s appetite for the macabre or merely a case of being famous for being famous.”

Rather they believe that the long lasting appeal of the Titanic is down to the myth that it embodies.  They say it epitomises nature triumphing over technology or that wealth and fortune are worthless in life and death situations.

“Equally important is the unfathomability, the ambiguity, the imponderables at the heart of the Titanic’s terrible tale,” the authors wrote.

Couple this with a sense of mystery surrounding the supposedly unsinkable ship.  Why was there not enough lifeboats for instance, or how did the crew not spot the icebergs in the ships path?  These questions don’t really have clear cut answers, and they contribute to the myth surrounding the brand.

“This casts doubt on the long-standing assumption that brand identities should be clear, concise, coherent and consistent,” the study’s author’s said, adding that clarity is overrated and imprecision is underappreciated.

So, if this research is to be believed at least, to be a great brand you need both clarity and imprecision.

 

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