Customer-obsessed marketing

Dead Brands And Living Brands

Ryan Skinner
Senior Analyst
January 30, 2018

MIT Media Labs may have helped put a fork in the monolithic approach to branding in 2011.

Today great brands are less recognizable by a particular color palette than by a tonal, or spiritual, or conceptual ‘je ne sais quoi’ that breathes through everything it does. You know it’s Patagonia without seeing the logo. Or LEGO. Or even Wendy’s dammit.

Monoliths are dead. They’re headstones. Dead. Just like that.

What’s something that’s always moving but still recognizable while it moves, even while it moves quickly and erratically? Something…..living! Yes, it is a living thing.

Would you prefer your brand to be a dead thing, or a living thing? Right?

But making a brand actually behave like a living thing is no simple feat.

How do you invest all of the business’s activities with meaning that makes sense for the brand and make it happen at the speed that living things, you know, do stuff?

I’ve got the foundation for a framework for this (I’m an analyst!):

Forrester Living Brand Framework

Part of the framework touches on capabilities borrowed from artificial intelligence. This is thinking for branding in an era of ubiquitous AI.

This is crucial territory for brands to explore and own, because:

  • It’s as rich and fertile conceptually as the sum of data available to us (which is rich, fertile, and vaaaast)
  • At its core, it is what brand is all about (powerful and archetypal concepts and patterns)
  • It lines up with where everything in your world is heading otherwise
  • It’ll happen without you, and around you (it probably already is), if you don’t step up to the challenge
  • Dead is not a particularly good look for a brand

Let us now talk of living things, and living brands. Let’s explore how the strategies that bring branding to life can accelerate this heartbeat by capturing real-time and real-world insights.

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