Branding And Spirituality: The Remarkable Connection
Branding is deeper and more meaningful than the commercial impact it has on the company's topline and bottomline
Branding is a bad word. For most who feel that it relates to selling aka brainwashing. While used as a tool to sell, there's more to the science and art of branding than that. I often speak about the subject in various forums comprising of non-commercial organisations such as missionaries, charities or social causes. In such forums I'm often hesitant to use the term, simply because the semantics of the word sometime destroy its true meaning. How can lofty ideas, values, vision and ideology be relegated to a commercially driven term like "branding?" Can such entities really use the term 'branding'? Isn't there a better way to spread the word?
Over the years I've strongly believed that branding is deeper and more meaningful than the commercial impact it has on the company's topline and bottomline. Leaving a far greater impact on society as a whole, we've seen brands having the power to shape cultures and build meaning to people's lives. We've seen brands leading positive change and triggering action in many ways. International brands such as Apple, Google and Amazon have shifted how people live, while Indian brands like Tata, Amul, LIC and several others have left a lasting impact on the country's social fabric.
And all this is simply because branding is akin to injecting soul into a business. It is about a deep realisation of the values, vision and ideology of a business and giving it a voice. A voice that can influence, and spread a message. Larry Page and Sergey Brin weren't driven by profits when they started Google. They were driven by a passion to make the world's knowledge accessible to everyone. They were driven by the deep desire to create a revolution and re-define how people lived their lives. Apple was created by people who dared to dream and wanted to shift the human race forward. Closer home, Dr Kurien was driven by the desire to empower and uplift the milk farmers of Gujarat and give them a better life.
One of the first things we do in a branding programme is get the senior board members into a room and spill out their deep seated values that are reflected in their brand/business. Surprisingly, money is rarely a driver. Most often than not it is passion to change the world and leave a lasting impression. Also known as 'purpose', it is often the single most powerful articulated or unarticulated force that drives the business owner to a higher ground. It is the soul of the business.
And when this soul is injected, it lifts the brand out of being a physical lifeless entity and makes it a living breathing being. It's the soul that connects to people. It's the soul that touches at a deeper level. It's the soul that helps the owners of the business reflect and stay true to who they are. It's the soul that leaves a lasting impression- an aura that supersedes the physical presence of the product. There's something emotionally stirring about buying a brand with soul. A feeling that can't be described because it operates at an almost metaphysical level.
What is spirituality after all? Finding meaning that goes beyond the physical. A transformative space that provides deeper purpose to life and shows the interconnectedness of everything that exists. While many definitions exist, the core essence of the term is similar in a lot of ways to what I just described a brand does.
And just before the purists jump at my seemingly offensive analogy, I would like to claim that in no way am I trivialising the subject of spirituality by likening it to a commercially used term. I've simply found the interconnectedness to these two disciplines, much like the interconnectedness of everything that is life.
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