The word “brand” is often taken to mean “logo” or “colour scheme”.
That’s massively oversimplifying it.
Great brands are much more than that, and you should be aiming to make yours great too.
Let’s look at brands in a new way.
Time for a music lesson
On its own, C is a rather boring note. It doesn’t mean to be – poor thing.
E tries its best. G is quite pleasant, but you still couldn’t listen to it for hours.
But play them together and something magical happens. A new sound is created, richer, deeper, and far more interesting than each note on its own. The combination evokes a feeling – C Major chord is “happy”. The notes played together create a new meaning.
And this is an idea you can apply to how you think about brands.
You see, great brands don’t play the same notes over and over. They don’t create a single, monotone sound – they use a variety of methods to create their music, multiple tools to create the feeling they leave you with.
The very best brands play symphonies.
At Epix we’ve had several website project meetings where Apple’s site had inspired the client. When unpacked though, we usually find it’s not the actual website they love, it’s the brand as a whole.
When the client looks at Apple’s website, they don’t take it at face value – they bring with them all the feelings they’ve built up over the years about the Apple brand.
Strip all of that away, and what are Apple? A company that sells electronics at premium prices.
Apple are just a business with a product to sell – everything you feel about them, the impression you have of them in your mind has been constructed through multiple touchpoints – that’s the symphony they’ve played, and that’s the tune you remember.
That’s what makes them a brand.
A quick YouGov search suggests that Apple are seen by the British public as “Good quality”, “Technically brilliant”, and “Well made”. Apple can also be described as standing for freedom of expression, for imagination. Their products are part of aspirational lifestyles.
That’s an incredible set of associations, and that doesn’t come from playing the same note, the same message over and over.
How Apple play their symphony
Apple are famous for creating bold, memorable ads across TV and out-of-home (just look at some of their billboard campaigns)
— Campaigns of the World® (@worldcampaigns) July 10, 2019
One of their most recent TV campaigns in the UK shows a person quickly sweeping clutter off a table so they can savour the delicious moment of unboxing their new phone. These are notes of reverence, of the beginning of a special journey with something great.
A highly memorable campaign from the mid-2000s featured silhouetted dancers on vivid backgrounds:
This plays notes of freedom, notes of joy and energy.
Even when promoting technical product features such as slow-motion selfies, Apple play notes of aspirational lifestyles:
And that’s just the TV ads.
Like all good music, you’ve also got to listen to the silence. Apple are very quiet on social – in fact in 2019 Apple apparently spent nothing on Facebook advertising:
What you hear about them on social is more likely to be from enthusiasts rather than Apple themselves, and that tribalism, being part of a shared community, is another key note in their brand’s performance.
Entire books could be written on Apple’s brand strategy, but the above examples show that the best brands aren’t monotone, beating the same drum over and over. The best brands play on multiple compelling ideas, and that breadth creates a richer sense brand in the minds of your audience.
Constantly develop the creative ideas around the core value of your brand and the ways you can empower your customers through your product.
Conduct this orchestra of ideas and your brand will play a symphony.