Brand Fame and why it matters

Here at PrettyGreen we talk a lot about ‘brand fame’ – the ideas that will create it, the media that will drive it and the tools that measure it; so we thought it pertinent to also talk about why it matters.

For the most part, a goal like ‘brand fame’ needs little promoting. Reach, talkability and sharability are words that feature on 90% of the briefs we receive. Making sure a brand has presence, whether introducing, reappraising or maintaining it, is arguably the first role of all marketing; but the rationale for why goes far deeper than reach.

A lesser discussed, but equally imperative role of marketing is ‘signalling’, sometimes called ‘cultural imprinting’ and, at its most basic level, it is about the need for consumers to feel that their positive impression of a brand is shared by others. If brands are one of the reference points we use to define ourselves (and judge others) their meaning must exist in the wider context of the world in which we live.

Whether you buy into Volvo vs. Audi vs. Land Rover vs. BMW is a decision based partly on the connection those brands have made with you as an individual, but far more on the impression you know that purchase will deliver to others. At its most extreme (in the automotive world) the true value of, say the Ferrari, lies in the envy of those who can’t afford it.

And it’s not just cars. The product range for which cultural signalling matters is surprisingly large. From beauty to beverages, clothing to chocolate, restaurants to retailers, airlines to electronics, even homecare products send cultural signals. Think of what Method cleaning products have done for the middle classes! In short, if there’s any chance your purchase will be presented (e.g. as a gift or gesture) witnessed (seen by anyone, anywhere), or discussed (used as a status indicator) its cultural signals matter. It’s not enough for everyone to know what a brand stands for… everyone must also know that everyone else knows it too.

 Ferrari’s and household cleaners – yes there is a link

For signalling to work best, the role of marketing has to be focused not on obsessing over what emotional driver matters to the individual, but what collective cultural cues are important to the wider audience. We need to do away with pen portraits and look to cultural trends, we need to work off of, not the niche personal insight, but the big broad human ones. We need to spend time interrogating the relevancy of the brand myth, its philosophy or meaning and ensure that this becomes common knowledge.

Of course, there is still a role for discrete, targeted comms – the flyers, direct mail or digital display ads that might push people over the line and convert to a hard sale, but this only works in conjunction with something bigger and something shared.  

So, the next time you hear us bang on about the importance of the cultural landscape, or the imperative of the 1/9/90 model (only 1% of a target audience may directly experience an event, but 90% more MUST find out about it through PR) you know why. It’s not enough for our ideas to be seen by individuals, individually. Ideas have to be public, in front of a large audience.

They have to have brand fame.

Written by Jo Hudson, Planning Director at PrettyGreen