Why do we think in terms of opposites?
Because we can’t think otherwise.
Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth
The opposites. A blessing in disguise — for both — the brand makers and their brands.
It makes it easier to create anything if it is either this or that. It is an easy way out. Good as opposed to bad. Happy as opposed to sad. Strong to sensitive. Masculine to feminine. Me to us. Black to white.
How does that relate to building a brand identity?
We have also two opposite ways of approaching it.
The old way — building a brand on the opposites. Result: a perfectly functional zero-sum brand with a good chance of operating on the bias.
The new way — searching for the unifying element despite the opposites. Result: brand synergy and a very good start to creating a wholesome, conscious brand.
What is a conscious brand?
A brand operating from core values holding that unifying power: to see beyond the opposites, to create the synergy. A brand able to transgress its identity to the community, and from there onto the broader cultural context. Onto the timeless and universal — back where it starts. The full circle — for everything conscious is circular.
Here’s where we hit the level of myth. Why?
Myths transgress. They connect the individual with the laws of the universal and the untamed. They explain. They teach. They do so through stories. Just as do the brands.
That storytelling can too, be anchored in the opposites or the synergy. We no longer have shamans — yet we keep on re-living the same stories and the same myths through mediums of today — the stars, the series, the movies, the celebrities. How is this all relevant for a brand? Well, anything that hits more than a million followers should be, as it most likely is the great shaman of our (new) reality.
Let’s get to examples that will link mythology, branding, and the two approaches — the good old opposites and the synergy.
One good example of an approach that thrives on the opposites is Trump. Surely, we all could name a few Trumps of the creative industry. Probably we can also think of brands that got the polarizing bug from their Trumpish makers. One really can’t change a dog into a cat. We let them do what they do best: bark, run around and guard their little terroir.
Moving onto the positive examples: Beyoncé. She leads quite an epic parade of myths, stories, and archetypes. Being the world’s most famous Venus with a baseball bat, she takes the role of the mother, lover, caregiver, wife, goddess, rebel, destroyer, creator, empress, warrior, teacher, and the queen (obviously). Her synergetic approach thrives, transgresses, and connects despite the opposites. Her identity is complex and magnetic, yet transparent and clear. Beyoncé wears many masks — why? She must use all of them to unify the reality torn apart by the bias. And nobody really doubts what she represents, what she stands for, and who she is. We feel it.
The point being — this is exactly what you want your brand to be. Everything that thrives, everything destined to grow needs to have that unifying power. The power armed with consciousness and the unifying gaze. The power that starts within. Within lays the source of the new world’s brand power and the future of brand leadership.