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Brands are people too - 5 lessons

The October 2007 issue of Fast Company has an interview with Alex Bogusky, the chief creative officer of Crispin Porter + Bogusky, an ad agency well known for its campaigns for Volkswagen and Burger King. Bogusky contributes an important element to the discussion about brands -- talking about personifying it and making it real. Asked how you make a brand famous, he responds: "You start to think about the brand as a person and do some things to personify it a little bit."

Bogusky notes that "personifying a brand" helps the creative process because "It allows you to think about the story of the brand and the narrative of the brand in more of a long-term way."

Bogusky also notes that it is important for brand narratives to evolve: "Madonna is a genius in branding....Madonna was always able to evolve to keep people interested. Brands need to be that way too. They can't lose the essence of what they represent but they've got to continue to surprise and delight you."

Here are five key takeaways for branders:

1. Go beyond a simple message -- be multifaceted with the brand personality. People are complex and so are genuine brands. Microsoft has a great potential to do this if only they would try.

2. Instill feelings, values, beliefs, and long-term goals in your brand as if it were a person. Think: If my brand were human, what would it say/do/think/believe? Then communicate based on that.

3. Give your brand an interesting story. Dull people have no friends. Neither do dull brands.

4. Make your brand story evolve over time. This is difficult to do well, but IBM has achieved it.

5. Make sure the brand story evolves consistently. Jeep is an example of a company whose brand story has evolved, but not consistently--it has gone from "survival" to "fun"--and therefore the brand has lost credibility.

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