Once upon a time, brands were only something that manufacturers
created to try to capture the finest qualities of their
But today, we see a growing demand from consumers to be deeply
involved in the co-creation of the brands they love - and a growing
ability of digital channels to let them do precisely that. We
have a new generation of brands that live so strongly in the
consumer's tweets and minds that now it's the unreliable and
ephemeral product that's striving hard to live up to the tangible
edifice of the brand image.
These thoughts crossed my mind as I considered two of the UK's
biggest news stories over the past week.
On Monday it was confirmed that the remains of Richard III, the
last Plantagenet King of England, had been found - footloose, if
not exactly fancy free - buried beneath a municipal car park in
Leicester. Rather a prosaic manifestation, compared to
the rich and evocative legend woven 400 years ago by William
Shakespeare and embroidered by the acting profession ever
We were brought further down to earth in the days that followed,
as it became clear that the Findus company had exercised
considerably more author's licence than even Mr Shakespeare when
portraying their beef burgers as, well… beef burgers.
Some of the meals tested were actually composed of 100% horsemeat
The public may have felt a touch disappointed that the bedraggled
skeleton in Leicester didn't have more of a regal air about
it. They certainly felt outrage when Findus's beef
ready-meals turned out to be anything but.
These are two cases where the product has failed to live up to the
brand. Consumers have created in their minds a strong and vibrant
image of what they're going to get, only to be disappointed by the
And that may be one of the biggest challenges for Creativity
Marketers in the years to come. Not to create brands that can
express the promise in their products, but to create products that
can live up to the promise of their brands.
And in case you've been wondering, it is indeed Richard III who
cries out in Shakespeare's play, "My kingdom for a horse!"
Findus could have helped him there...