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5 Things A Three-year-old Can Teach You About Branding

Updated: Mar 1

Children are delightful - they are also smarter than the average adult who makes life so complicated. Here are five things a three-year-old can teach us all about branding.

  1. Brands need to delight, with colour, action, and a simple story. Have you ever seen a three-year-old transfixed by a cartoon? And walk away to find some other toy to play with when it's a 'regular' television program? That's because cartoons get it - they tap into humour, colour and action, and a simple story that engages because of its simplicity.

  2. Brands need characters for personal attachment. Sometimes this could mean a brand mascot, though many companies today are moving away from this strategy. I'm not sure why, when the average child gets attached to a character foremost, whether it's Elsa from Frozen, or Mulan, or Harry Potter. Brands should tap into the attachment and projection inherent in good and memorable characters and characterization.

  3. Brands need heroes. Every kid loves a hero, so does every adult. When you're positioning your brand, think about the ideals that it represents, and make those ideals the essence of your brand, which will give your brand heroic positionality. Someone once said, 'make your brand famous' to get it noticed. Only heroes are famous and get noticed; well, except for villains.

  4. That brings me to villains. Every brand story should have a villain to play off of, to give your brand the tension it needs. Afterall, if you're not fighting for something or against something, why are you important? Is that villain, in your case, an idea or a perception, such as no one but ultrathin and 'beautiful' people are worthy of beauty? Or the way an industry works, where no one but your brand cares as much about environmental sustainability? Standing up for something is what every hero does, and that something it stands up against is the villain. Every hero story also needs a villain in the background, something to rise above and conquer. Even Bugs Bunny had Elmer Fudd.

  5. Every brand needs music. And I don't just mean music, music; there should be music in your copywriting, too, there should be a feeling of rhythm in your slogans and taglines. The design should feel harmonious and in the right state of tension. And, of course, there should be music, music, the sounds that are attached to your brand, from the music you use in commercials to the sound branding you put into your logo. Have you ever seen a three-year-old just start to dance when they hear music that they like? They can't help themselves, and neither can most adults, even if they only take to tapping a toe or humming a bit. Music sticks with people; and you want your brand to stick with people. So, use music. I want to thank all of the three-year-olds in my life who have taught me that superior branding comes down to basic, human principles of engagement, even if great branding takes great skill to execute.

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