I finally got a chance to see The Great Gatsby and after leaving the theatre, I could only think about how Gatsby himself embodied so many branding lessons. Yes, I realize that thinking about branding while watching The Great Gatsby is probably not all that normal.
I don’t need to go into detail about how the film was branded and marketed, managing to appear in almost every area of pop culture, from jewellery and current fashion trends to 20s inspired remixes of hit songs. I’d rather talk about how the character of Jay Gatsby taught us about the joys and perils of branding decisions.
If you still haven’t seen Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby, go watch it today and then come back and read this.
5 Lessons Gatsby Taught us about Branding
- Be consistent. Everything from clothing choices and hairstyle to language and conduct was consistent for Jay Gatsby. Each element was calculated to portray a certain kind of gentleman and any time he was in the public eye, this branded persona was upheld. Yes, the “Old boy” talk did get a little tiring, but it sure was consistent!
- Think about the details. When a business is forming their brand, they need to think about obvious details like a logo to use on their letterhead and website, but think about how many areas were dripping in Gatsby’s brand. His floors held his logo, his car was undeniably “Gatsby”, and every detail during his parties communicated his message of lavishness.
- A little mystery is invaluable. Entire products are built around mystery (like Caramilk bars!) and the desire to know about the company only draws people in more. Each time a detail is revealed, you feel more attached to the brand and move deeper into their inner circle.
- Too much mystery might kill you. There’s something to be said for company secrets. A food item has a special sauce; a gadget uses a special plastic; a face cream has a special ingredient. Unfortunately, many brands confuse transparency with divulging secrets and leave their customers confused and lacking trust in a brand. McDonald’s is a perfect example of what happens when a brand decides to become transparent and show that they have nothing to hide.
- Tell a good story – and make it true. Stories are Gatsby’s bread and butter. They add to his legendary status and are passed through his social circles as if a commodity. In a real life situation, stories give the public a narrative to hold onto and because our own lives are made up of stories, we naturally connect to them. That being said, don’t tell tall tales. They will usually come back to bite you.
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