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Give your brand the “ooh”, “whoa”, and “wow”.

It is quite possible that one of the most troublesome things you could hear is that you have a viable brand.

Not unforgettable. Not irresistible. Just viable.

Here’s how it happens. You assess your brand. You figure out the mechanics of it. And then you assemble a rational explanation that defends why it is a viable alternative out there in the market. This then becomes your brand’s story. It’s workable. It’s just not necessarily an enthralling story.

It’s easy to think that if you get the mechanics of the brand figured out the magic will eventually come along. It’s even easier not to think that far ahead. After all, once you have a viable brand with a viable story, it’s tempting just to move on. And that’s what too many brands do.

It is easy for a brand to get lost in the tsunami of information that inundates all of us every day. If your brand is simply serviceable, it will get lost. There has to be something enchanting about your brand. Something enchanting about your story. Otherwise, you are just part of the ocean of white noise.

It’s all about giving your brand that something that ignites that “ooh”, that “whoa”, and that “wow”. It’s the visceral reaction that turns a viable brand into one that is loved — and, in turn, remembered and embraced. Here are three ways that can happen:

  1. Maybe you have a feature that has never been seen before. A showstopper. Something that turns heads. This can be a source of awe for your brand. The trouble is that it can be tough to sustain. For example, I remember — back in the day — carrying around an iPod and a mobile phone and grouching that someone ought to be able to combine these two obviously essential devices. Then the iPhone showed up and I was blown away. Of course, now every smartphone has this capability. Which reinforces the point — the speed of innovation will commoditize your once awe-inspiring feature.
  2. Maybe the benefit you deliver touches a raw nerve. Maybe it solves an aching problem. Or offers a solution that is universally accepted as not only valuable, but downright emotion-inducing. I’ll point to Apple once again. Their holiday commercials slay me. Especially this one from 2013. Although this one from 2019 is not too bad either. Both show us how Apple gears their devices to do things that allow us to have a very moving impact on those around us. I believe I actually uttered “wow” when I first saw them. That’s significant coming from a jaded old branding guy.
  3. There’s one other factor you can embrace to spark that visceral reaction. It comes when you embrace what I call a Big Audacious Meaning. This is your purpose. And when you share it with the world it can do some pretty wonderful things — helping people see how engaging with you and your brand can help them feel like they are part of something larger. Something that can have a positive effect on the world around them. I’m going to use the example of Dove. I use their men’s products. And I can attribute my willingness to try them to their purpose. The interesting thing is that their purpose has more to do with women than men — as they state it, to be “an agent of change to educate and inspire girls on a wider definition of beauty and to make them feel more confident about themselves”. I was moved by their Campaign for Real Beauty. There was a definite “whoa” when I saw this video for the first time. It made me want to be a part of this purpose. That meant giving them a chance with my purchases. Of course, the products had to be quality (they were). Added on top of that was the feeling that I was helping to advance this purpose. That made me a true believer (and loyal customer).

Every brand has the ability to embrace something magical. It’s available to all of us. We just have to be willing to go beyond the mechanics of what the brand does or how it does it. And then help everyone experience that moment. That moment when the “ooh”, “whoa”, and “wow” happen.

Dan is an expert brand strategist and author of the book Big Audacious Meaning — Unleashing Your Purpose-Driven Story. He is a founder at Will & Grail — a brand innovation company, helping organizations find their unique, undeniable and unshakable sense of purpose and create innovative experiences that bring it to life.

Originally published at on December 5, 2019.

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Dan is an expert brand strategist and author of the book Big Audacious Meaning — Unleashing Your Purpose-Driven Story. He is a founder at Will & Grail.

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