Science & Branding: Be the brand that one truly is. / by Chris W. Hubbard


Like people, many brands at some point wish they were other than who they are. They look around and see a host of new brands who are cooler than they are, better looking, or having more success. They wish to have a different "brand self." So they attempt to make themselves into something different. But both failure and success at these attempts can lead to despair. 

If they fail, then the organization—and by the organization I mean the people within it— sufferers a severe blow to their morale and confidence. They may find themselves more lost than before. The business itself may suffer or inevitably fail as a direct result. 

If they succeed—and by succeed I mean they complete something like an organization-wide rebrand—they may actually do so at the expense of their "true self"— their desire to simply "be something different" leads them astray. They may find that while they have become something different, the thing they have become is not authentic, and therefore impossible to continue with honesty and impact.

Either way, they abandon their "true brand self", leading to despair within the organization. 

To escape this despair they must accept their true self as an organization, and let this lead them to become brand they were actually meant to be.

In the 5th century BC, Socrates stated that "the key to happiness is discovering the "true self." But it was Soren Kierkegaard—the world's first existentialist philosopher—who focused on understanding the "despair" that people feel, not from depression—as he claimed—but from the alienation of the self. Kierkegaard felt that despair stems from ignorance; when a person has the wrong idea about what "self" is, and is unaware of the existence of his potential self.

Just imagine how many organizations there are in the world who not only have a completely false idea of who they are as a brand but don't even realize that they do indeed have a true self as an organization. The very idea of branding—as most organizations understand it—has been one of the contributors to this problem. One solution could be to stop using the term "branding" altogether—as I suggested in one of my previous articles on "realizing"—in order to help organizations genuinely understand the modern day concept.

It's one thing to be innocently ignorant, but another to actually understand who you are, yet because of it, dislike who you are and seek to escape it through the fabrication of a false brand image. These are the organizations who actually struggle the most while laying blame on more tangible things—bad sales, bad employees, a bad location. The diversion of responsibility becomes a mask for the organization to hide behind.  

People, and the organizations they make up can find peace and inner harmony by finding the courage to be their true self, unveiling their greatness, and rather than wanting to be someone or something else, building a brand based on genuine authenticity.