What Pixar can teach us about Branding

Apr 28, 2010 | Branding Strategies

Cartoonists and animators have a unique gift to accentuate the positive.  They draw on the essence of an action, and then exaggerate and dramatize it.  For example, in Pixar’s movie UP, dogs can talk.  As Dug explains, “Hi there.  My name is Dug.  My master made me this collar so I may talk.”

Pixar makes the implausible plausible, and we immediately connect with their endearing characters.

Take a page from Pixar’s gifted animators as you brand your organization.

Pixar works tirelessly to breathe life into their characters by pulling out their essence, exaggerating specific qualities and allowing the audience to experience them in a variety of scenarios.  We believe in their characters, because we connect them with human attributes.

A character is made up of three aspects: its internal qualities, its external appearance, and how it relates to its surroundings.  Dug is a truly caring and loyal companion.  Through thick and thin he is loyal to Russell, Carl and even the bird.  He goes to great lengths to help them and support them.  But his loyalty is only his character’s foundation.  Dug becomes a remarkable with a simple exaggerated action, “Squirrel!”  Brilliant!  Dug’s character is appealing and authentic, but the exaggeration makes him truly memorable.

A brand is very much like a character, and it is made up of the same three aspects:  internal qualities, external appearance and relationship to its environment.  All three aspects play and interact off each other.  A brand draws on a company’s essence, and then expresses it through its marketing, products and services.  A brand’s relevance is formed in context to its environment, and is contrasted to other options or choices available to customers.

When the brand aspects are in sync, you have a strong foundation to differentiate on.  Dug isn’t a great character, because he shouts “squirrel.”  He’s great, because he is true to his essence.  “Squirrel” is simply a tool to differentiate and make Dug memorable.  Look for key, positive elements in your organization’s essence that can be dramatized.  Let your customers experience your company’s unique gifts, and help them understand what makes it distinct and special in your market place.  Find your “Squirrel.”

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Jeremy Miller

Top 30 Brand Guru

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