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In Spike Jonze new film “Her” in which a man falls in love with his operating system, there is a wonderful example of the power and influence of branding.

Having seen the trailer, I immediately put the movie into the “goofy, not going to see it” category, yet there was something familiar and alluring about the voice of the operating system.  It wasn’t until the reviews started rolling in that I found out it was Scarlett Johansson’s voice. Hmmm.

Manohla Dargis wrote in The New York Times today “It’s crucial that each time you hear Ms. Johansson in Her, you can’t help but flash on her lush physicality, which helps fill in Samantha (OS) and give this ghostlike presence a vibrant, palpable form.” It is this muscle memory associated with Scarlett Johansson’s voice – this Pablovian response — that smart brands attempt to build.  The frosty Coke bottle image on a hot day. The sweet pillowy taste and texture of a Krispie Kreme donut. The olfactory-palooza of a Peter Luger porterhouse.  

When you have a brand plan, complete with promise and support planks, the casting becomes easy. Rich. And powerful. Peace.  

 

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The whole brand plan thing – one claim and three support planks – is not really that difficult a concept. Ask the executive suite “What are the three things that differentiate your company?” and you are likely to get answers like “people.”  “Service or product” is often the second thing and in today’s touchy/feely business world the third point is “culture.”  Oy.  And American business chugs on.

Even with these three undifferentiated corporate drivers, a girl can make a living. (And trust me, these are pretty lazy planks.)  What most companies have a hard time articulating is their main claim or idea. Brand strategy is made up of this claim plus the 3 planks.  That’s what drives success inside and outside a company. But the brand idea must stand alone and it must have power.  Apple’s “simplicity.” Coke’s “refreshment.” Krispy Kreme’s “sweet treat.”  Google “information in one click.”  Outside the realm of consumer marketing circles, these over-arching ideas are hard for corporate executive suites to articulate.  They use b-school worlds like excellence and operations and shareholder value.

Brands and the molders of brands are the bedrock of marketing.  The more they are understood, the more successful marketing will be…Peace.

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