Countless times I’ve written, said, and explained this. That brands are like people. I build on this premise even though some may not like it. Anyone who wants to understand and develop brands should start by understanding him/herself and people. It’s no coincidence that this archetype tool is so popular because it’s just about stories of people (or schemes) in the world of business!
While searching for brand inspiration in the world of comic book superheroes I got quite a bit carried away. Their world is full of excellent stories in which a number of brands can find the structure they need. And they may quite likely find it in a more useful way than in those tools you read so much about. There is a lot of inspiration like that around us, though. Maybe it’s because my Dad (I’m so grateful!) forced me to read when I was very little that I carry hundreds of awesome stories in my head. I still read fiction, by the way, and I’m never going to stop. Let’s look at branding (again) today through totally different eyes. Through the eyes of a pilot. Yes, The Little Prince is an excellent story, an excellent fairy-tale, and an excellent insight into the human race. Therefore – see above – an insight into the world of brands. Ready? Have you read it? No? Either way, go read it, it’s short. This time, however, read it through the eyes of your brand. Observe, think. And beware – don’t expect an analysis of the whole book here; I’m just going to show you places for inspiration and leave the rest for you to work out on your own ☺
Right at the beginning we meet a caring brand. The little prince loves his rose above everything else. Fears for it so much! Protects it. Tolerates all its whims. Imagine realizing that your brand behaves like the little prince to his rose. Think. What would it mean? Do you really think about your surroundings more than about yourself? Do you care about anything? Do you love selflessly? Yes, you can find a similar structure in The Hero and the Outlaw; narrow your eyes, though – can you see yourself? Can you see your clients as your roses?
You may find the king from one of the planets the little prince visits closer to you. The king who is excellent at reigning. The little prince, however, will show you the dangers of such a king because everything obeys him, even the Sun, but… just read what happened. In short, beware! When you’re on top, it’s so difficult to not quit following the context, the context below. Due to the reigning itself you may forget who and what you reigned, and you may forget to use your power. And this happens to a lot of brands.
On the next planet you can see another extreme structure; a structure of a scholar, a scientist – a geographer. The cartographer who has never traveled anywhere. How come? Well, because it’s the job of explorers! Doesn’t this remind you of some brands? Due to being experts they miss the essence of their business-making, of their being. Is your brand an expert? Congratulations! And is your brand useful at the same time? A round of applause for you! It’s so tempting to isolate yourself in being expert. It happens to both people and brands. Those who don’t understand what we do are idiots! Oh, I’m not going to preach here, but the world has just moved on, huh?
I can’t not mention the businessman; he just has to be here! He tried (in vain) to explain to the little prince that his work is to keep counting HIS stars. Yes, he owns stars because he was the first to ask for them. He’s a rich man! Take a look around; so many brands I no longer understand. So many brands behave like the prince’s businessman. Only counting, keeping their stuff. Expanding, innovating, enhancing… yes, yes. But mainly counting. It’s an awesomely interesting experience to work for (some) global brands with varied capital, with capital on the stock market. You’ll no longer understand what’s good and what’s bad.
And my last example? Well, it’s us – people! We made the little prince desperate. You know, it’s no wonder, actually. And it’s maybe why I like him so much. But that’s a different story. The prince couldn’t understand why people only move there, and then back. Again and again. No purpose, no cause. No joy. So many brands around us lack the joy in being! Oh yeah, I know, the times are bad. It’s difficult. I know! But it’s even more difficult without awareness of a purpose! Mr. Adler made a lot of effort to prove this. Work on making yourself aware of purposefulness! Sound like nonsense? I understand. And maybe the little prince will help you with this (really difficult) effort.
And what about the baobab trees? And the fox? And the snake? Will you find inspiration for your brand in them, too? Feed yourself with stories, feed your brand. You won’t regret it. And I’m convinced that you’ll contribute to your brand like this more than by reading another guaranteed hit on how to build up a superb brand from nothing. I’m going to add some more inspiration soon, just you wait. And read, mindless?
With love to Antoine Jean-Baptiste Marie Roger de Saint-Exupéry and www.thelittleprince.com