What Makes a Meaningful Brand?

In marketing, we are taught to create meaning because it builds stronger brands that consumers can connect with. We give brands an archetype because it helps connect with consumers on an emotional level.

Well...this is almost true.

At the heart of all meaningful brands is one thing: soul. I’m going to use music as a way to try and explain this.


What do these three albums have in common? They are three of the most influential and iconic hip hop albums of their generation. The artists behind these albums also have a strong brand that we connect with on an emotional level. Why is that? 

When Pac, Yeezy, and Kendrick recorded these albums, their goal was not to make a hit record. Their goal was to express themselves through their art, and we connect with that expression. 

They poured their heart and soul into these albums. There’s that word again, soul. These albums have so much soul because of how intensely personal the lyrics were. They weren’t the result of trying to create meaning. They were the result of being created with meaning. 

“It was all my fears, all the things I just couldn’t sleep about… and it took a whole album to get it all out. I get to tell my innermost, darkest secrets…”
–Tupac on Me Against The World

They were created with passion in mind, not demographics or other marketing nonsense. Thinking about marketing, or “what’s going to work” will hold you back from creating something great. Yes, you can create something purely with sales and success in mind:


But will it leave its mark in history as an all time great? Or will it fade away into infamous obscurity?

The same can be said about a brand or a company. If you create your brand with being successful in mind, then it won’t have the same soul as a brand created from passion. Creating a brand that’s fueled by passion means you have a story to tell. Just like how Pac, Yeezy, and Kendrick had a story to tell. And having a story to tell means having a more meaningful brand. Everything else will come after that.

Via Facebook

A good brand is like your favourite album or song. It connects with you on an emotional level because it has meaning; it tells a story that makes you feel a certain way. That’s why branding is all about storytelling.

As a brand studio, we can help you tell your brand’s story; but we can’t give your brand meaning. I’m sorry. We can sit there and humour you with archetypes, but we can’t give it soul. That’s on you.

If we use another music analogy, you are the artist. We’re the producers that lay down the beat for your story.

Don’t creating meaning. Create with meaning.

Dana Lixenberg, February, 1994 Mikael Väisänen, Aaliyah in Berlin, May 2000

Dana Lixenberg, February, 1994
Mikael Väisänen, Aaliyah in Berlin, May 2000


Shouts to Pac for inspiring this blog. RIP.
And RIP Aaliyah.

We were all blessed to have you two on this earth. 

Ricky LamComment