The english language does not have a word for self-understanding, self-image, self-perception, that captures it as nicely as the German word: Selbstverständnis. It leans more toward effortless, occurring automatically by itself. A conception of oneself that is effortless and organic.
We have learned to identify brands by their logo or logotype. Our brain associates logotype and color of a name or abbreviation thereof with the brand. Think of IBM, the Apple logo, Amazon’s typeface. McDonald’s arc, Nike’s woosh, Adidas’ stripes, Google’s colored letters, the Mercedes star. I don’t even have to show these logos and they pop up in front of your inner eye so that you know what I mean.
Currently the German tv audience gets bombarded with an ad for Zalando shoes, and the name of this new brand is quickly learned, by continuously and relentlessly shoving the ad in our faces. No reason to fall in love with Zalando though. In the contrary. The Zalando logo is not learned either, we have no clue what it looks like or what color it has. Why should we? We identify Zalando by the sound of its name and perhaps we associate it with the naked people we get to see in the ad. I would now have to show you the video but I won’t. Its beside the point I am about to make.
Many believe that the logo is the brand, and a lot of attention is given to defining logotype and color thereof, in high hopes to make a difference in a competing market. What makes a difference though, is the brand’s healthy self-understanding. To a degree of independence. A brand with no healthy self-understanding leaves no mark. It can’t impress no one. No desire for a brand can evolve without its self-understanding, and not so much by the way it looks but how we feel about it. Same as with people. Our desire for a brand is dependant on its self-conception on not by the way it looks. This is what we marketing people must learn – more than anything else. It’s not “Got milk?”, it’s “Got self-understanding?”
© 2011 Got Milk? Goodby, Silverstein & Partners