The term “brand” has had innumerable definitions over the years, from
merely being a name, logo or “mark” – to being a promise, a set of
attributes, a “DNA”, and more recently, the experience that surrounds
As those who know us are familiar with, at Wunderkind and our sister
company Scientific Intelligence, we’re very interested in archetypes
and big ideas. And those two phenomena are closely related. In our
opinion, nothing becomes hugely popular and lodged in the public
imagination unless it a) represents an archetypal idea or set of
needs, and b) is channeled through a Big Idea that brings it to life
in a powerful way.
Based on that point of view, I’d like to offer a new definition of brand:
A brand is a business expressing an archetype in a relevant vernacular
for today’s world.
A brand is a business, first and foremost, that hopefully is in the
process of expressing an archetypal human need or idea, such as the
Cinderella archetype of the hidden princess, or the Prometheus
archetype of the rebellious god of innovation, in a modern and
relevant way. It’s no coincidence that the most famous brand as it
relates to florists and delivering flowers – is FTD, with the famous
symbol of Mercury, the winged god of communication and speed. Or that
Coca Cola revised the Santa Claus archetype and put him in a fresh red
and white outfit in the early 20th century.
Wikipedia’s handy definition of the word “archetype” is “a universally
understood symbol, term, or pattern of behavior, a prototype upon
which others are copied, patterned, or emulated.” And in fact, Wikipedia itself
is an expression of an archetype in a modern form. I invite readers to consider which
archetype(s) Wikipedia represents to our collective psyche..