What is a brand?
Brand is a most useful asset for an organization.
Brand is a short form to express a core truth and encapsulate expectations, stories, memories, and relationships that compel us to hire a service/product to do the job we want done. When the brand delivers on those expectations, we pick it again.
Brand is also a metaphor. Keep closing the perception-value gap through delivering on your promises and you can command a premium from trust you get for doing great work.
Apple is one such brand.
According to customers all over the the world, and as Interbrand summarizes, the company has changed many lives, not just with its products but also with its ethos. Which is why it has risen to the top of their Best Global Brands list, becoming the new number one for the first time in 14 years (for context, the famous “think different” ad was released in 1997).
A brand that delivers consistently attracts evangelists, and few brands have evoked the kind of advocacy of Apple brand evangelists.
Evangelism is a kind of passion that creates ripple effects in communities and contributes to the active construction of greater value for the brand.
So I thought it appropriate to share from an old post -- both to welcome the fall season upon us, and celebrate one of my favorite brands.
Brand Heiku: Apple
When most Americans think haiku, they think of the sort of verse that goes like this: three lines of 5/7/5 syllables, perhaps with a bit of humor to it. And since that's what people expect, it's probably what I should write.
The 5/7/5 syllables idea is based on a misunderstanding of how Japanese verse really works. The phonetic units in Japanese -- they're not syllables -- don't have an equivalence in English. Syllables are an apples to oranges approximation, since the English language's syllables can be many different lengths.
The net effect is that 5/7/5 syllables in English yields a considerably more expansive verse than Japanese haiku, which is remarkable in its economy of thought and imagery.
Most Western poetry compares concrete things to abstract things. When we say “poetic language,” we mean flowery, adjective-laden literature, rich in simile and metaphor. These properties are absent in Japanese haiku, which is spartan and objective.
It leaves the “poetry” in the mind of the reader or hearer, focusing instead on concrete imagery. The idea is to convey the moment -- experience and sensation. It's an extension of Zen. Zen means both attaining wisdom through action, and doing the right thing.
Japanese haiku also has a structure absent in its popular American version. A haiku has two parts -- setting and some sort of action. We use punctuation to differentiate these two parts; the Japanese use something called a “cutting word.”
Classical Japanese haiku is closely related to season. It will contain a “season” word to place it within context, and there are enormous collections of appropriate these words.
Finally, Japanese haiku isn't usually funny. That's reserved for another form, senryu.I wanted the haiku itself to make sense to you within the context of its form. Hence this post that wraps it.
In the composition of my verse you will see at the end, I discarded the 5/7/5 rule, opting instead for a metric verse, 3/5/3. Which would be horribly restrictive in English, if it wasn't for a fair compromise -- what we call “significant words.”
These are everything other than articles and prepositions. An English haiku might be 2/3/2 significant words. The two halves will be split by strong punctuation, such as a double dash or semicolon.
To illustrate, here's my brand haiku dedicated to a company that by its way of looking at the world, shows it's listening up:
“Random leaf” is the setting, and also the reference to the season. There is no explicit poetry in this verse, which happens to satisfy the 2/3/2 essential word form. There is a leaf in the design, and there is a design experience with the brand which is a closed system. Everything is concrete.
The setting is always related in some way to the action. The system is closed, and that is the experience you get. You know it. Yet, within it, there is a voice, a surprise. Steve Jobs has now become known for responding to random emails about Apple. Absolute objectivity.
And yet ... I am saying much more than is written. How many CEOs do you know who answer customer emails personally? [After Steve Job's premature departure, Apple has become more communicative about its strategy and product roadmap#.]
It's possible to draw more from this haiku, but I'm sure you get the general idea. Haiku is very deliberate, in contrast to its apparent simplicity. It is designed to evoke rich sensations, which -- in turn -- summon emotion. It's a way of looking at the world.
And so a brand is a way to tell a story about the kind of world a company wants to create by keeping collective promises -- using new models of creativity, collaboration, and leadership (and I would add ingenuity) to bring forth a new reality.
Valeria is an experienced listener. She designs service and product experiences to help businesses rediscover the value of promises and its effect on relationships and culture. She is also frequent speaker at conferences and companies on a variety of topics. Book her to speak here.