Brand Mirror: The best brands in the world aim to inspire instead of simply to sell

As we move about our day, we’re bombarded with thousands of branded images. Most of them are white noise, but others manage to cut through the clutter and intrigue us.

They allow us to escape to a remote island in the Mediterranean, imagine the excitement of hiking a trail in Iceland or envision eating a farm-to-table meal prepared by a local chef in West Marin. These particular images stop us in our tracks because they touch on something special to us and find a way to speak to the inner voice inside our head—the voice that still breaks out for dreams while the rest of our body is acting like it’s working. These images get in. They infiltrate the imagination and then run wild.

A normal day for me is pretty busy. I think it is for most of us. We fill our days with to-do’s, rushing from point A to B. I have found the brand images that resonate best with me amplify who I am; they have a familiar quality yet reflect a better version back to me. They have the power to inspire me—they can make me think about a nicer rendition of the sweater I’m wearing or the vacation I have planned. Once
I connect the experience to myself, to bettering my life, and a brand makes me feel something, I’m in. I’m on board for the ride, and I’m going to continually check back in to what they are broadcasting about me because, frankly, it’s great. An improved version of me without any effort? Sign me up!

Some brands do this exceptionally well. They weave the familiar and the aspirational into tremendous narratives. Sometimes these narratives are things we mortals can relate to and sometimes it’s the stuff of epic mythological worship. For example, Nike presents all of its products within the larger “culture of sport.” Nike’s product is your ticket into this world and culture. You may resonate with the product—perhaps something that you’ve owned in the past, like a pair of trainers—but then the inspiration comes in: The models in photoshoots are athletic and real. The context of a running trail or a city run looks good. It’s an aspirational alternative to just walking in the shoes. If the trail looks good, then a marathon looks even better. And if the marathon looks great, why not check out the Olympic track and field events? Nike puts forth many entry points into its narrative. Then it’s up to your imagination to find the right adventure and escape. You feel better about yourself and you’ve barely even purchased the shoes. You see a better you in the world Nike presents.

Over time, I’ve started to think of this “better me” effect as The Brand Mirror. The brands that “know” me and manage to inspire me become the brands that I follow and become loyal to. I never feel like I’m being sold anything (I hate selling, so this is good).

The next time you see a campaign that speaks to you, ask yourself why that is. Do you see yourself in that brand? And more important, do you see a better version of yourself in that brand? If so, The Brand Mirror is in effect, and that’s the hallmark of a truly successful creative endeavor.

Attending HOW Live 2016? Catch Dora Drimalas speak about The Brand Mirror on Sunday, May 22nd. Click HERE for more details.

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This article was written by Dora Drimalas and originally published in Issue 08 of the Mohawk Maker Quarterly. The Mohawk Maker Quarterly is a vehicle to support a community of like-minded makers. Content focuses on stories of small manufacturers, artisans, printers, designers, and artists who are making their way in the midst of the digital revolution. Learn more about the quarterly here and sign up to receive future printed issues.

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