“But for now it was still eight o’clock, and as I walked along the avenue under the brilliant blue sky, I was happy, my friends, as happy as any man who had ever lived” – Paul Auster, Brooklyn Follies
I began a series of events, and in the process met a band of brilliant entrepreneurs, at the frontiers of branding, who had, in the last ten years build a series of excellent brands. They showed that a brand changed its very structure with each different activity it performed, perfecting its circuits so it was better suited to the task at hand. If certain ‘attributes’ failed, then other attributes could sometimes take over. The machine metaphor, of a brand as an entity with specialized attributes, could not fully account for changes the entrepreneurs were seeing. And I thus I began to call this fundamental brand property “brand plasticity”.
I engaged some of them with this but at first many of the entrepreneurs didn’t dare use the word ‘brand plasticity’ in their presentations, and their peers belittled them for promoting a fanciful notion. Yet they persisted, slowly overturning the doctrine of the unchanging brand.
Branding is forever changing in the world; countries are now getting expertise from other industries to enhance their offerings. In events, there is a huge investment in virtual reality, because marketers see the need to engage their audiences with content that has been edited out and rehearsed. For an events company that was founded in the early 2000s to assume that hosting events that only needs a stage and a podium will add value, I find really naïve, given that their audiences are evolving with the different technological offerings being provided by other companies. For example incorporating technology into the core offering of a brand, the brand no longer just gives the audience or users the original attributes of the brand but now shifts to offering technology based experiences, leading to users associating the brand with innovation. Which is really what brands want, the strong need to be ahead of the pack, or rather running with them at a pace the promises dominance.
So what really is brand plasticity? Brand plasticity is the unrelenting nature of brand innovation and ensuring that the core becomes the trunk that enables all the other branches to grow. In principle, a brand should have a strong trunk if it wishes to grow. The basic norms of branding are vital in ensuring this trunk is strong. Brand stories are one of them. Every successful brand has a story to tell, and that means each contains the essential ingredients of a compelling narrative. A good brand story does not have a full true stop, like a good novel it allows the reader to think that the character’s life still continues even after the last chapter. If you have read any of Paul Auster’s books you would know what I am talking about.
by Thabo Ledimo