Our Fathers, Who Lived Out Branding
This is originally a letter from “The journey” a daily newsletter I share with a small community of people who care to read.
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Definitely, what you’d read below has been refined and has passed through a bit of scrutiny unlike my letters which come in undiluted.
In search of opportunities, family, friends, and greener pastures, we move.
The core of the human nature is not nomadic, however, this bone was nurtured in us because of the need to survive.
Simply put, the reason man moved from place to place was to ensure he had a better chance at survival. If a particular place was no longer beneficial, our ancestors packed their bags and moved.
This is why they lived in what was called settlements — they basically needed a region they could settle for a bit before moving again. No permanent structures, no acquisition of many possessions, except they had the man-power to accommodate it. They always left open the option to leave at anytime, which is why their houses were built with sticks and stones.
A number of reasons exists as to why our fathers were always ready to up and leave, and one of such reasons was a major understanding of their environment (read as market).
As much as these people were very mobile, this system of living was greatly influenced by their perception of their environment, they rarely made uninformed decisions to move.
They were very dependent on data backed up with rare cases of gut instincts. For them, data came as stories passed down to them about regions, markings left behind for them to find and the natural instincts of animals they shared territory with. It was very rare to find them uninformed about their environment.
Coming into a market requires that you do your homework and this is why they had people who were skilled at keeping and interpreting this data. The name “scouts” might have come into existence much later, but we refer to them here as custodians of stories.
Stories influence perception. Perception speaks to branding.
Stories were a major source of data that informed tribes of regions and people to be weary of.
Does this sound like you when you intend to break into a market and you’re greeted with stories about the existent brands in that space?
So, what happens when the scouts are sent out?
When do the custodians of stories (read as shamans, priests, etc.) tell the stories passed down to them?
I’d leave you to answer.
The understanding that their environment was dynamic and ever evolving kept them at the edge of their seats, alert and attentive to stories that travel far and near and making decisions to that effect.
Scouts were also responsible for spreading stories of tribes they belonged to.
As a brand you must not be oblivious of the happenings in your market space.
- What stories are being told?
- How is your perception being sold?
- What stories fill the regions and how can you leverage them?
- Who are your scouts?
This category of people did not exist in every settlement. They actually evolved from older generations present who held the story of the settlement. This role eventually evolved into some sort of spiritual responsibility. The shamans offered wisdom and guidance based on the knowledge of history and with the surety that history will repeat itself and patterns would be redrawn.
The objects of the narratives might change per time, but history will always repeat itself. This is why as a brand, you must always be friends with the data.
What’s history’s take?
The industries might differ, but human psychology is still very much primitive. Though we are the authors of technological feats, the underlying reasons these things exist are hinged on primitive wiring in our brains.
The world is patterned to reproduce after its kind.
Evolution and Positioning
If the market is evolving, you obviously can’t remain the same.
Some of our fathers with the knowledge of nomadic routes, leveraging stories passed down overtime, considering their Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats decided to settle in strategic places.
Here, they narrowed their focus away from mobility to serving the environment.
They built stronger shelters, walls, had markets and began opening their villages to other nomadic tribes. Yet still telling their stories and sending their scouts they strengthened the perception of their city, trade was defined, currency was born, and value was consistently hinged on perception and need.
The word began spreading because travelers passed through.
This is what every brand aims for — word of mouth marketing.
It’s powerful, it leverages on existing credibility of the tellers and it sparks interest even far much more than the stories told.
It’s an interconnected web of narratives that bolster the perception of the city as it consistently and equally ensures the stories being told of it are not far away from reality.
Brands are living entities.
They have a life time.
Your responsibility at any stage of branding is to ensure the right stories are told consistently with your evolution as a brand.
You can preach of a victory, extraordinary feat and future, utilizing your scouts (SM managers, comms people, PR and marketing etc.) to spread and build on the narrative you want to strengthen in your marketplace.
You have your shamans (brand mangers, CBO, brand operators, brand champions, storytellers, etc.) — slaves to history, custodians of your story — to ensure internally, your story is consistent among every member of your tribe. Because, when we all go to hunt and gather, we become scouts, who spread the story the shamans have told.
You can’t loose cognizance of the fact that the hallmark of a brand well positioned is that travelers will peddle its story on the back of camels and horses. Some will return, others will cause people to visit themselves.
When they come, it’s now a matter of ensuring the experience that was peddled is consistent with what exist, if not consistent, at least no too faraway.
I hope it was more than an exciting read, share with me some of the lessons you picked from the story.