Branding and Identity


[box] If we believed fully in what we were about, that actually was far more important than how well we could play – The Edge[/box]


It Might Get Loud is a great movie about music that also has a number of lessons about branding and identity.   The movie features three of the most important guitarists of our time: Jack White (White Stripes), The Edge (U2) and Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin). Two of the most important lessons I learned from the movie about branding and identity are finding your voice and believing in a vision.


In the 70’s, punk rock bands such as the Sex Pistols, The Ramones and The Clash caught The Edge’s attention.  In one particular moment, he understood that a punk band’s ability to play wasn’t important to their success. What made these bands successful, the Edge realized, was their shared commitment to truthfully express their distinct voice and vision.


At first, these punk musicians couldn’t play and that didn’t matter to them at all.  What matters most to them was that they support one another to pick up their instruments every day, experiment and learn.  Day by day. Week by week. Month by month. Year by year.  They had no expectations to play flawlessly the first time. These artists pursued a vision.  They believed that the distinct voice they heard in themselves deserved a unique space in the market.


Are wildly successful brands any different?




Like these bands, wildly successful brands have cultures that commit themselves to the pursuit of learning, not instant perfection.  These brands dedicate themselves to their achieving their vision and constantly communicate their distinct voice in as straightforward a way as possible.


A few examples of great brands come to mind.


Zappos sells shoes but they identify with delivering happiness.

Apple sells electronics but believe in challenging the status quo.

IBM sells servers and software but their voice is committed to building a smarter planet.

Amazon sells books but their lifework is to become earth’s most consumer centric company.

Starbucks sells coffee but their mission is to inspire and nurture the human spirit.

American Express sells credit cards but their calling is to help clients to realize their dreams and aspirations.


It’s this pursuit of a distinct voice and belief in a vision that leads to a brand’s sustainable growth. Products may come and go but the vision behind them remains. Courageously communicating your vision is what brand identity is all about.


What do you sell and what is your brand vision?


I’ll go first.  I happen to sell a brand development system but my vision is to revive the passion in organizations around the world.


Your turn, leave a comment below.





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