Category Archives: 3 – From Myth to Meaning – The best way up is to go deep

Most brands do better if they have a good story*. Super Premium brands cannot survive without it. Because only if you have a legend can you become legendary. Nothing inspires people’s imagination – and fascination – like a plausible narrative. That these legends often include aspects that are esoteric or shrouded in mystery is intentional. Because ultimately, Super Premium brands are about believing – not necessarily knowing. They must seduce our heart and soul and not just convince our brains. Provide a perspective on life or an ideal we can buy into and not just reason what and why to buy. These stories do not necessarily require a long-standing history. Many high-end brands in many categories are actually rather forward than past oriented – think of Honest Tea or W Hotels. But they must reflect elements of truth combined with a higher calling. Only then can they give the brand authenticity, credibility and an aura of nobility. Only then can their myth* be meaningful – and potentially strong enough to elevate them above and beyond.

* Why Stories? — Stories not only entertain, they inform us in more intuitive, emotional and memorable ways than single-dimensional, rational arguments. Even better if that story is brought to life and can be experienced through our senses. Then, we need to think less and can feel and judge more. Behavioral scientists have found humans to be ‘lazy’ that way, trying to minimize the intense use of energy by the brain that goes into thinking. Rather than providing a “reason to believe”, class brands will provide “stories to believe” – better still, “myths to believe”.

* What are Myths — Myths are stories that convey ideas and ideals (ideology) we can live by. They do it through compelling plots and characters we can relate to. Think of the believes surrounding the Chanel or Harley Davidson brands and their ardent disciples. For believing is more spiritual and engaging than just knowing. And being a believer gives us that needed sense of belonging, makes you part of the chosen few.

Recap
– The power of legends and the move from reason to story to myth
– Why heritage is not a matter of history
– And why believing is the opposite of knowing

Here are Posts and Podcasts on this principle:

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Myth-Making – The Holy Grail of Today’s Ueber-Brands

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Storytelling has become the hot topic as the mainstream of marketers discovered that stories can make us relate to- and remember a brand more fondly than a cold sales pitch. But marketers who seek to elevate their brands beyond the material … Continue reading

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The Artisanal – Between Fads and Truth

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In our book ‘Rethinking Prestige Branding – Secrets of the Ueber-Brands’ (Schaefer / Kuehlwein, 2015) we discuss the omnipresent trend towards ‘Artisanalization’, reviewing quite a number of examples like Smith & Norbu, maker of bespoke optical frames, Yuan, hand-crafter of soaps, Lakrids, inventor of … Continue reading

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Ueber-Brands and The Art of Myth-Making

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Many definitions of myths talk of ‘lies’ – or at least ‘a stretching of the truth’.  So we shouldn’t really care much for them.  Yet, myths have not only been told and re-told across the millenniums, they have been consistent in their content and construction … Continue reading

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Moleskine – A Myth Bridging our Analog and Digital Worlds – Interview with Maria Sebregondi, Co-Creator of Moleskine – Podcast Episode 04

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In this episode we talk to Maria Sebregondi, co-creator and VP of Brand Equity & Communication at Moleskine, the storied, little black notebook brand.  Since its creation in 1997, Moleskine has become a favorite tool among urban knowledge workers and everyone who still feels … Continue reading

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A Beauty Insider’s Look at Ueber-Branding

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We had the honor to be invited to talk about ‘Ueber-Branding’ by the Fashion Institute of Technology and the Luxury Marketing Council in New York and also bring along a panel of friends from Moleskine, The Laundress, CO Bigelow and Dunnhumby. … Continue reading

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How can Beauty Brand Hopes and Dreams hold up in front of the Digital Mirror?

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“Beauty is hope. It’s about our dreams and aspirations. Yet, as with everything, digital has made reality creep up on it big time. Where beauty brands, especially prestige ones, once fancied themselves as hovering above the fray in a realm … Continue reading

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Rethinking Prestige Branding – Secrets of the ‘Ueber-Brands’

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After some 4 years, 75+ interviews, 150 cases studied and uncounted conversations – including with many of you – Wolf Schaefer and JP Kuehlwein are happy and proud to launch our book ‘Rethinking Prestige Branding – Secrets of the Ueber-Brands’ through … Continue reading

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The Mini – Underdog makes Űberbrand

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The Mini is a runaway success by most measures – except size, maybe.  Who would have thought that this quirky, tiny car could carve out significant market share, again, when most other brands were talking size, comfort or power? And … Continue reading

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The Promise of ‘Bespoke’ – How Űberbrands go beyond ‘choice’ to create identity and extract a premium.

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Bespoke is the new luxury – Again. Many consider Chanel the height of luxury. So it is telling to hear Chanel marketers talk about ‘bespoke’ as the ultimate form of luxury today. They are not the only ones to recognize … Continue reading

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How Premium Brands Grow Without Losing Their Glow – Part II

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In Part I we looked at how premium brands use own flagship stores and retail partners that project exclusivity to keep their glow while extending their distribution.  Horizontal geographic expansion around the globe – rather than penetrating a single market … Continue reading

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What A Romantic Can Teach Brand Managers

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Novalis, an author, poet and philosopher of Early German Romanticism (1772-1801) once wrote: By imbuing the meaningless with meaning the ordinary with a sense of mystery the known with the dignity of the unknown, and the finite with an infinite … Continue reading

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Don’t ‘Talk It Up’ But ‘Talk Your Own’ To Create an ‘Ueber-Brand’

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We say in our premium branding model that “the first rule is to make your own” as one strives to develop brand myth and meaning. – It’s ‘Mission Incomparable’.   Many premium brands are about identity construction.  They help customers to … Continue reading

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Message In A Bottle – Of legend-telling Soymilk and Bottling the Hermès legend

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This is a tale of two bottles.  A bottle of soy milk that stands out and tells a story and a bottle of perfume that inserts itself into the saga that is Hermès.  Both have in common that the stories … Continue reading

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Creating a Myth

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During religious or national holidays, we are reminded of the global power of legends, or one legend in particular. Without stepping on any religious toes I think it’s save to say that we need stories to believe – and make … Continue reading

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When Product Creation becomes Brand Legend

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I visited Lego in Billund the other day.  I should say “I made a trip to Legoland, the ‘real’ land of Lego.” For this small town in rural Denmark not only hosts one of the namesake amusement parks (and a Lego-hotel, … Continue reading

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Art without Tears

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Last week I wrote about the balance between style and substance and how easily the former can undermine or overpower the latter. A fascinating and limitless topic, which easily sustains another week. So, here we go again, a bit deeper, … Continue reading

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Aesop – Fabled Brand, Fabulous Marketing

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 – the Australian boutique Beauty Care brand founded in 1987 – intuitively masters the art of “class branding”.  It is a perfect case to illustrate key principles that – when lived by – can lift  a brand above the masses.  Of course their … Continue reading

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Beauty & Truth

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Usually I’m a big believer in the innate connection between beauty and what we call truth, i.e. something that resonates within our soul. Last night however that belief got a bit of a damper. I watched Anna Karenina, the new … Continue reading

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Hoshinoya Resorts – Host to a Myth and to those on a Quest

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We met the Marketing Manager of Hoshino Resorts last week at a meeting in Tokyo. She gave us a vivid account of the marketing and business model behind the unique, Japanese luxury resort and spa brand – Hoshinoya.  But most … Continue reading

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Cire Trudon – Leveraging History to Create Myth and Meaning

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The candle brand Cire Trudon (Trudon Wax) provides a wonderful illustration of how an extensive history is transformed into a rich heritage and the creation of myth and meaning that the acquirer of these exquisite luxury candles can take home and dissipate – quite literally. … Continue reading

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Attention to Detail – Good But Not Enough

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I bought a pair of Jeans the other day while New York City.  I wasn’t really planning on it and I had never heard of the brand before – Tokyo Five.  They just caught my eye while checking out a … Continue reading

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Warhol – At the Edge Between Mass and Class

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The most frequent or observant of our readers might have noticed our pop art theme and Andy Warhol himself popping in and out of our header art.  “What has that got to do with ‘moving brands from mass to class?’, you might ask. … Continue reading

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