Branding experts Ologie recently sent us a brochure that showcased the materials created for one of their clients. In one of the publications, they had written "simply put, brand allows others to see us as we see ourselves."
Hmmm. I like that. Lots of layers there though, if "we" is meant to be inclusive. Oberlin students would never agree on a single "brand," so how could a single "brand" let others see us as we (collectively) see ourselves?
And yet the traditional purpose of "brand" is to have a single thing that people see and recognize and identify with a given organization.
How do we satisfy both sides of this?
Factor in that the traditional model is growing obsolete - these days, blog entries, tweets, facebook posts about people's experiences at a college constitute as much of a college's "brand" as its marketing campaigns. Probably more.
Can we make soup out of these ingredients?
If I said to Oberlin students and alums "send me Oberlin's brand as you see it, in whatever medium works best for you," and put all of the responses together into some sort of collection, would that be useful to anyone other than me? What do you think would emerge? Obviously this is what fearless what supposed to capture, but it simply wasn't organic enough.
I suppose this idea is a bit like the Stories Project in that they are both reactions to a brand that was created for us instead of by us. But really this would be the Stories Project boiled down - instead of 500-word essays, the submissions would be a handful of words, or an image, or a video, or a picture, or a piece of art - something that could be absorbed in a matter of seconds. I don't know what we'd do with them. Maybe part of me fantasizes that somehow the perfect commonality would emerge.
The seeds are there but I can't yet picture how to grow them. Help me think this one through.