As she says in her book, competing on a tone of voice is NOT a real and durable advantage for a brand. Nor is she convinced about the role of PR in building brands. As she sees it, they don’t have the creative know-how to build legendary brands.
Why? Because they don’t have culture and creativity at their hearts. They focus on presence, performance and visibility. But, as she says, these things – ‘performance marketing and paid social carpet bombing – no matter how targeted, do not create a human connection that all durable brands have.’
So, I ask her in my podcast, what are good, durable brands made from? Describe their characteristics. And here she is clear: trust, which requires time to build up and deploy; devotion, on behalf of its founders and the eco-system it serves; a myth; an association; a story; a grand narrative; along with an exemplary product people can believe in and rally around. And most importantly of all, the 4Cs: a community within which the brand lives, breathes and interacts; content it uses to ensure that those interactions are sticky in the form of stories, cultural riffs and memes that key opinion leaders, or KOLs, as opposed to followers or influencers, want to talk about; curation and curated moments, whereby extraneous noise, or other kinds of marketing distractions, are filtered out; and finally, the ‘we’ voice of the collective, of the collaborator, where what a brand talks about or promotes ‘reflects the broader taste and aesthetics of their joint audience’.
Finally, as she explains, social responsibility, sustainability and corporate transparency need to sit at the forefront of your brand as well as within and beneath it. You have to lead by example, in other words, rather than merely reflect the lowest common denominators of the day. ‘Brands are like trends,’ she concludes: ‘If enough do good, and are good, others will follow, along with their communities.’ Just so.