Does your Brand have Soul?

THE YEAR OF THE SOUL IN 2019 is the MUST HAVE for Brands

The consumer is now over-saturated with branding partnerships, cross-pollinations, placements and in your face brand campaigns. The days of the overt marketing partnerships are so yesterday. Today we are now part of consumer « communities » and our power on the social platforms has really taken hold in the B to C connection. This has up-ended businesses that used to dictate to us, though it could be said that « instagrammers » have become the new dictators, but let’s leave that for another another discussion.

I talk alot about how great brands are stories and how great stories give birth to unique and powerful brands. Sometimes they are part of the individual, like a COCO CHANEL or ESTEE LAUDER or a service like AMAZON that is dominated by a service more than a product and has no personality. In the past five years (a hundred years in the world of brands) there has been a renaissance of the idea that things need to be simpler, less commercial, more responsible and less « glossy ». This is due to the influence of our next generation of mass consumers: the millennials. So let’s call it the “un-brand” brand that simply keeps on drawing people to it like moths to a flame that shows no signs of burning out.

There is an « un-campaign » being waged for an audience that has been completely burned out by « advertising campaigns » so now the ‘stealth’ campaign must be is embedded inside other messengers to convince consumers to join up. Don’t be fooled: you are being marketed to but in a kindler and gentler way and perhaps with a bit more honesty. That’s a good thing.

It is a brave new world, but I just need to say here, that « old world » stuff should never go out of style. Things that work for people no matter what: service with a smile; clean and sparkling hotel or airbnb rooms; a welcome when you arrive; lovely cashmere sweaters; comfortable seats; leg room; good snacks; a working internet connection; ballet flats; a mint condition English roadster; the perfect little black dress; a great song; a friendly bartender; easy purchase or processing; warm community; honesty and transparency. I am sure you have things to add on my the list. “Old School” should really be “New School” because you really can’t put a price on these things. This is not to say, new is bad; not at all, new can be good, but smart brands take things that are familiar and human then they re-invent, re-tool and recover the things that give the old brands, their patina and polish, elegance and SOUL.

I walked into the Bristol hotel one afternoon in Paris (yes, this is really my life sometimes) and had heard that Angela Jolie has just been there the day before hiding in the top floor suite (like Marlena Dietrich) and passing the entrance of the Bristol hotel (greeted by the best looking doormen in Paris) you walk past the bar and down the long hallway overlooking the winter garden (perhaps to the ladies room) and perhaps you pass a marmalade cat, snoozing on the red plaid armchair. That’s the hotel cat and they have a very important function: They catch rats. He greets customers and offers that lovely sense of home especially when you pat his head. You may forget the comfort of your rooms at the Bristol, but if you are a cat lover like me, he is your favorite touch of ‘soul’ at a hotel.

Newness can be enticing but it may come at the expense of the SOUL and this is a mistake; new brands need to capture the audience by sharing their soul, honesty and integrity of what they are about. This exudes quality, truth, transparency, and uses mystery where it counts. “Soul” might be defined by everyone in a different way and can mean different things to different people. But we all agree its the “heart” or “core” meaning of a brand and what it stands for and this is priceless.