Branding for the 21st Century

Creative By Magesh Srinivasan | May 26, 2022
In today’s column, Magesh Srinivasan, presents a foundational framework that will enable brands to strengthen their voice and reduce the noise that is omnipresent in people’s minds.


Feeling a Brand 

It’s easy to feel a Brand, we all do it, we have our list of favourites and those brands that we adorn curate the experience of living and create our persona. An Apple user is distinctly different from a Microsoft user. You may not be able to articulate that nuance in words but you feel it in your gut and know it instantly when you see the user.

Let’s try another segment – ‘Organic’ buyers versus ‘Regular’ consumers. Brands that are Organic offer to an elite set of consumers and they are a tribe unto themselves. The ‘Regulars’ subscribe to Club SST {Sasta-Sundar-Tikao}, they will not spare a penny if they don’t have to; they are always fishing out a bargain  everywhere they go. In an inflationary world, consumers thrive on deals that seem to increase their satisfaction in the shopping process, even though they are aware that the price is ‘inflated’ and then ‘discounted’ to create ‘maya’ that activates the craving and the impulse to ‘click’ or  ‘pick’ the brand.

If you are a brand manager or a business owner you need to invest a significant amount of time, effort into long term thinking ‘strategically’ in order to blueprint your brand {brand vision} before you begin putting it out there into the marketplace. If you skip this step or ignore owing to lack of time, it will negatively impact your business in ‘lost value’ - lower mind share, recall and consumer retention. Finding a fix at a point in the future will cost more time, money, effort and it is unlikely to yield desired impact in the market or in the minds of your target audience. If you are parenting a child you will be able to relate to this with ease. Proactive planned effort pays in the long run, reactive tactical ‘gap’ fixing drains your resources and erodes peace of mind.

Here's a foundational framework that allows you to explore principles that govern human perception, improve ‘Signal’ strength of your brand and reduce ‘Noise’ that is omnipresent in our cyber-brains.
 

Alignment.

Why is alignment relevant? Well, if we create from a Visionary vantage point, the view is broad and over a long-term horizon, hence it affords greater clarity of purpose, positions the creation well above the undifferentiated dust in the Digisphere.  Individuals and organisations {collection of people} need to get this right even before they begin to utter their brand names or describe their brand or illustrate the brand logo and trademark. Each person perceives uniquely but the universal noise affecting our cognition and fogging the human brain, impacts the clarity of perception individually. Transcending that noise is the key attribute of a successful brand, visible on top-of-mind recall anywhere in the physical or digital worlds that we inhabit.


Ideas.

Ideas are powerful. They outdo any other form of expression. The birthing of historically great ideas amplified conversations; they shaped, influenced and pulled people into a cohesive force to reckon and transform society, made progress in science and accelerated innovations that gave disruptive technologies to redesign and redefine human experience. The Internet was that idea of the 20th Century which matured into the mainstream in the 21st Century. Today we ‘subscribe’ to ideas on social media leaving trails, creating patterns and participating in furthering ideas.

Ideas induce trial. Experiencing something new, leads to affirming the idea in the neural networks of humans. This is the moment of truth for a brand. There, we now see it clearly: brands = ideas. All things great and small in the material world operated by humans were initiated and conceived as an idea. An idea, if it resonates with the early adopters after its genesis it begins to take on a life of its own. It leaves its nest, never to return and the parents can no longer expect to control it. 

The medium of exchange of ideas is the conversational platform – there are multiple in action, working simultaneously to engage billions by hosting sensational news items that are often fabricated to trigger a desired mood or even push an sponsored agenda  by vested interest groups, think tanks and propaganda machines that are relentless in the pursuit of exercising control on the human race, controlling thought formations by defining the lens by which we ‘see’ ourselves in the world without being aware of our senses  silently surrendering to this onslaught.


Form Intelligence.

Simple is powerful, yet simple is not commonplace in the Digisphere. The essence of Mother Nature is her simplicity in form matching function. ‘Shout-out-loud’ in order to stand-out from the crowd – doesn’t always bring the right outcomes, subtle silence and grace connects better with a discerning audience and lingers in their hearts longer than brazen display of might, often misplaced and inappropriately devoid of context and sensational like a ‘flash in the pan’. Here are core elements that allow for weaving simplicity in thought and action no matter what the scenario, it is universal in appeal and powerful when composed with nuance.

-> UNTEXT – Curate visual background imagery with a ‘brevity’ of words to match. Perfecting this is an art unto itself but when it is refined through practice it can offer a unique experience to the visual sense of the audience and leave a reflection of its creator. 

-> UNBOX – “how do you eat an elephant” asked the village school teacher and the student promptly replied – “of course one bite at a time, teacher”. Childlike curiosity can often reframe complexity into alternatives that most people overlook even though it stares at them every single hour of their busy lives. That ability to spot, gain an insight and express it in a manner that pushes the audience to re-think is an effective strategy to differentiate.

For e.g. Pick any AMUL advert

-> UNDO – ‘less is more’ is a guiding light for every creative artist dealing with creating mesmerising work of art that transcends ‘time and space’. The worlds’ masterpiece of Mona Lisa would not be as appealing if her ‘smile’ was more than what she wears – not too wide nor too dull, it is just about right and therefore intriguingly GOAT {greatest-of-all-time}.


FIN.

That is in French. Element of surprise and joining the dots differently requires a curious, eclectic mind and a pair of eyes that sees simply with greater clarity and is able to plot the dots that occur in everyday conversations and weave them back into context as requisite and pertinent; dynamically navigate the clutter in the head and stay on top of the wave while it lasts, until we await the next one, standing silently, observant as the splashes touch the sandy beaches across the seashores of thought and action. 

Magesh Srinivasan is the Chief Mentor and Digital Consultant at Uxury, a Mumbai based Full Service Agency. Uxury is a member of afaqs! Marketplace.

Mumbai Branding Full Service Agency