You’ve heard of Hermann Goering right?
A Nazi who committed unforgivable acts, but who was also a skilled propagandist, master of deception, and chief proselytizer of the Third Reich.
And, Hitler’s second in command considered himself a collector of fine art.
He stole, swindled, and bought paintings for his collection, but what he really wanted was a Vermeer.
As I mentioned, the guy who was second in command to arguably the most evil person ever to inhabit this earth, fancied himself an art buff.
But here’s something you may not know. Goering was duped by a skilled Dutch art dealer.
Hitler possessed several pieces by the famous artist Vermeer and damn if old Herman didn’t want one for his own collection. (Hitler had two prized Vermeer paintings.)
So, Goering found Han van Meegeren, an art dealer, who soon sold him a Vermeer—a painting which would now be worth some 10 million dollars—that became his most prized piece of art.
At the end of World War II, Goering was captured and tried at Nuremberg, and that’s where the story gets interesting.
After allied forces searched Goering’s collections, they went after individuals who sold to him and soon arrested van Meegeren, charging him with treason.
Facing death, the dealer confessed. But he didn’t confess to treason. Why?
He didn’t sell a true masterpiece to the wicked Nazi, he painted it himself.
Turns out the Dutchman was an ingenious forger.
Where branding enters the picture.
Why did old Herman care so much about this painting? Why did he just have to have it? And why did it become his favorite piece of art?
- Its perceived value was immense.
- It had history.
- And if the master of the Third Reich had not just one, but two, it seemed that much more precious.
But this is only part of a story that has everything to do with branding. So, stick with me, okay?…
1940s Germany seems light years away, but certain things have not changed at all.
And when it comes to the art and science of branding, van Meegeren had one part mastered, but was woefully inadequate in the other.
Let me explain.
The two major components of branding done right.
You buy a product, work with an individual, or hire a team based on what you know and feel about them—your beliefs.
1. Part of this is perception.
Vermeer was seen as a master artist, Hitler owned several of his paintings, and Goering of course knew about the famous painter, Jan Vermeer.
Think about your response when shopping for a gadget.
You buy or ignore based on your beliefs—what you know about the product, the company and its history, and often the thought that this will somehow make you different. Think Apple.
2. But authenticity will bring your brand to life.
Your complete brand image is not only about how your audience sees you. It’s really the combination of the shared experiences, of your customers, readers, and fans.
You can create the perception of a great brand, but until people experience it in some way, you’ll see limited success.
Let me give you an example of ineffective brand trickery.
If a restaurant owner was up to his own van Meegeren trickery, he could take a cheap table wine, pour it into a decanter, serve you the wine, then embellish this experience with story…
“This is homemade wine, born from deep Italian tradition, made using a technique passed on from my great-great-grandfather.”
You would experience the wine in a completely different way, right?
And, unless it was the cheapest rot got swill ever, the power of story—history, origin, and experience—would completely change your perception of the wine.
It would taste amazing because you’re not only drinking wine, but tradition, Italian heritage, and craftsmanship, all artfully presented in a beautiful decanter.
Branding experts know this, but guess what? Great branding is not based on story alone. It can’t be, because this is not a sustainable model. And, more importantly, customers will eventually realize they’ve been duped.
This is why it’s ultimately unsuccessful.
Below is a much better example of effective branding.
Here’s a superior story. One that can work for you and your business…
The restaurant owner / winemaker DID create his own gourmet table wine. He worked hard honing his art of winemaking, all based on the family recipe, but framing it in story simply helped him sell more wine AND please his customers.
By combining story and authenticity he created a lasting connection with his customers.
So, how can you effectively brand your product? Your services?
If you have a great product or amazing services, customers may discover you, love you, and come back for more, but what about those that don’t discover you?
Realize every potential customer is influenced by his or her belief system.
What you offer is part of that.
Your brand is the other.
The mental creation that is your brand is…
1. your story and;
2. your connection with your audience.
Story can’t survive alone, and trickery alone usually doesn’t work…
Goering was soundly duped. Van Meegeren was temporarily rich, yes… but later his deceptive practices were found out and in the process, he (van Meegeren) lost all.
You basically have to do what my restaurant owner / authentic winemaker did – Have something of value, but give it depth and meaning through story. In other words, create some sort of experience around what you offer—one filled with history and emotion.
That is how you inject lifeblood into your offerings through effective branding.
Next week I’ll dive a bit deeper into the art and science of branding, explaining how to create an amazing brand story.
If you want a detailed plan on how to build a brand that rises above the noise, connects with the right audience, and drives the action needed to help you advance your business, sign up for my email list where I’ll show you the 6 steps to bring your brand to life.
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