On Beethoven and Brand Patterns
In a social media world, brands have inherently less control over corporate image than even a decade ago. To combat that uncertainty, explains Marc Shillum, principal at design firm Method, in a panel at SXSWi 2012, brand patterns must be nurtured. Everything from the curved edge of an iPhone screen icon to the physical maze of an IKEA store, should be part of a deliberate construct.
“Patterns are unique in the fact that they create consistency around difference and variation,” writes Shillum in his paper “Brands as Patterns.” “Creating a believable and consistent brand begins with the creation of coherent patterns.”
The essence of branding is storytelling, and the glue that can turn a pattern into a story, says Robin Lanahan, brand strategy director for Microsoft’s Startup Business Group, is tension. “All good stories need to have tension and fluctuation, but they all need to stand for something concrete as well.”
For example, with the Old Spice Guy ad campaign, starring the hunky yet hilarious Isaiah Mustafa, “Old Spice reconciled the tension between being a player and being the good guy,” Lanahan says.
Walter Werzowa, a composer famous for creating the Intel “bong” jingle, explains that while the first four notes of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 are repeated verbatim only four times in the symphony, slight variations of them recur 45 times. Hence, a pattern emerges without repetition. “Beethoven was his own brand,” Werzowa says. “You recognize Beethoven from whatever he composed.”
Businesses should take a cue from classic composers when developing their own brand messaging. “It is a time-based thing,” Werzowa says. “If you are too repetitive, it’s boring. If you get too chaotic and change constantly, you lose your audience. Successful music is built through the right combination of what is expected and something new.”
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