In branding, we use the mind to mind the mind. In meditation, we use the mind to lose the mind. There is another way to look at this. They are sides of the same coin. They underline the duality of life. The mind is a hungry wolf that can gorge on anything that comes its way. It doesn’t know when or how to say no. In a way, it’s powerful as it can be inspired to create but it’s also quite helpless as it absorbs a lot of garbage and it can be inspired to destroy. Religions, multinational brands, influential personalities, best selling books and the people close to us; they all try to impress upon the mind a philosophy, a story, a promise, a dream and ironically even peace of mind. Does peace belong to the mind? Can the mind be ever peaceful? Should it be peace without mind or peace of mind or mind without peace? A peaceful mind is an oxymoron and a mind without peace overstates the same fact with additional words. The fact that there exists mind, there can’t be peace. It is this vulnerability of the human mind which brands exploit to build their equity. Some brands identify permeable gaps and use persistent communication to go and position themselves deeper into the mind. Some brands rely on creating experiences and outcomes to influence the mind into taking actions that benefit them. Yours truly is guilty of practicing this art as a profession with the same vigor and intensity that I have used to pen this article. Does this article sound anti branding? Or is the perception of meditation better than the perception of branding? Is one side of the coin shinier than the other? The answer may lie somewhere in the thought that the branding of meditation may be better than the branding of branding. So in a way, branding isn’t too bad, it actually helps in branding meditation. What? Did I say branding meditation? Does it mean anything? How do you create a bias for something that is supposed to kill all biases? Meditation is supposed to destroy biases and thoughts where as branding survives and thrives on triggering new thoughts and activating new biases. The role of meditation is to destroy all thoughts and then destroy the receiver and the sender of all thoughts, the mind itself. Meditation puts the mind to rest. Branding puts the mind on top, makes it the king, the great leader and creator of thoughts that are limited to and by the thoughts the mind has been exposed to. This vicious circle is insidious. Let’s look at some other polarities of life and see if we can find some respite to this dilemma. It is said that you feel good only in the presence of evil. You feel satiated only when you have been hungry. You can be happy only when you have experienced sadness. Is one condition a pre-requisite for the other and vice versa? Or, are both conditions perfect equals and mirror image of each other? In our context, is meditation possible only when branding exists? In other words, you can lose the mind only if you have it. Otherwise there is nothing really to lose. As per the second hypothesis, branding should be an equivalent of meditation, a mirror image of each other or a polar opposite. Is the mirror line the separation where branding stops and meditation begins? Or are we referring to the same thing with different words. When you look yourself in the mirror, whom do you find staring back at you? Are you happy with that image? You may be happy with yourself but not so happy with the image you see in the mirror. So what will you change? Will you change yourself to see a better image or will you replace the mirror with a one that shows a better image? In majority of the cases, the effort goes into replacing the mirror or changing the lens or transforming the point of view in order to change the image. A miniscule few make an effort to change the person who is staring at the mirror, trying to build consistency and coherence between the identity and the image irrespective of which mirror comes in between. And this is when branding becomes meditation and meditation becomes branding and the two are perfect opposites and yet they are perfect equals. They are equal and opposite just like the reaction from Newton’s third law of motion.
Each one of us struggles to manage our multiple personality disorders. You can have as many as 6 unique personalities in action in a single day depending on whom you are with or interacting with or the situations you encounter as you live your day.
- Your personality when you are alone or let me say not alone but with yourself, when you are driving a car alone, reading a book, traveling in a plane or simply meditating.
- Your personality when you are with your family – your spouse, your parents, your siblings, your children.
- Your personality when you are with your closest friends, the ones you trust blindly and can share anything with.
- Your personality when you are at work with your colleagues, the people with whom you have to work and take work out of.
- Your personality when you are with your clients or people who will pay you, when you usually end up showing your best side.
- Your personality when you are posting and interacting on social media or when you attend a networking event, the side that hides everything else behind you.
You can add a few more to this list. For example, your personality when a stranger bangs your car from behind or a waiter who serves you your favorite coffee with a smile. In building a brand, we often talk about developing a single unified personality and the importance of consistency. Imagine being consistent as a personal brand under all situations and conditions that you are a part of each day. Imagine being pulled in all directions and the struggle to stay true to a single personality and image. It’s not easy.
Think of personal brands that inspire you. Barack Obama, Richard Branson, Mahatama Gandhi, Steve Jobs, Amitabh Bachchan. Now imagine, how would they react to the different situations and encounters in a single day. Can they be consistent? Can they stay true? Can you be consistent? Is there any one quality you have which can stay true at all times under all conditions? Is there a way?
Recognize that one thing in your organization or you (if you are a personal brand) that is your real strength. It should be something that you can stand by under most if not all conditions. Something you are very comfortable doing, almost effortlessly. That one thing which if taken away, would take away your edge. It will be that one thing that you can continue repeating over and over again and yet people find it valuable. It should be something you are passionate and emotional about. Call it your product.
Once you have recognized that special thing which you just identified as your product, build a brand around it. Give it a name, an identity. An identity that you know only you can own it. Make it memorable if possible but more importantly make it simple. So simple that people absorb and digest it with sheer ease. No, this is not the best time to be creative, this is the core. The core must be understood and remembered with ease not with punctuations and questions. Just keep it very simple.
Once you have given an identity to your product, now is the time to work on its presentation. Just because you got the first two steps right doesn’t mean you will become a brand. Yes you have certainly made some achievement in getting the definition right which most people don’t, but only you know about it. When others look at it, they don’t have the same emotions as you do about your product. You need to package and present it in a way that your customers are able to visualize the same emotions and passion that you have about your product.
Now, get ready to talk! Presentation is passive. You still need to bring attention to your brand before it starts to run its magic. Now is also the time to wear the creative hat that you had so far kept aside for the logical one. The secret to good communication is not to communicate everything in one go. Create curiosity. Build an interesting story. Don’t let the cat out yet even though it’s quite tempting to do so. Communicate just enough to build interest, excitement and attention to your brand.
It’s now time to sell! The Hurrah moment! It’s time to monetize the equity you have been building till now. The buyer is interested. You can let him know the price. The secret to pricing lies in understanding the concept of customer profit. The buyer must value your branded product above the price you are charging him. Selling is also the time a real exchange happens for the first time. This is also the time misunderstandings can happen. Make sure you fulfill your sale completely and to the satisfaction of the buyer. No part jobs please. But hey, selling or fulfilling the sales transaction is not delivery. Your work has just begun.