Andy sure had fun creating his own brands. Did he foresee a time when we would all do the same, a time when the package would become one more pliable element in our own personal brand building exercise?
Asked another way, was Andy Warhol on to something when he created his personal vision of the Campbell’s soup can or the Chanel No5 bottle in the 1960s? Did he anticipate, by nearly 40 years, a time when all brands are merely a reflection of the each consumer’s personal vision to a similar set of stimuli?
I’m confused. I’ve always felt that the package is the brand. That all other forms of media change, adapt, and support the immediate needs of the brand message. But the package remains true to the brand’s core, communicating its message through long-term equity.
This has been one of my strongest and most fundamental beliefs, but I’m beginning to wonder. Is there more, and was Andy right?
Just finished reading a piece by Valerie Jacobs, Group Director of LPK Trends, in the online version of the DMI Review. Entitled, “Platforming: Evolving the Paradigm of Branding”, it lays out a case for creating “scaffolds-or platforms-for consumers to experience the brand in a personal, relevant way”.
This is an approach that Liz Sanders of Ohio State has begun talking about in her work. As Ms. Jacobs suggests this scaffolding might look something like this,
“people are given abstract tools (the scaffolds), which allow them to build whatever they want and then fill in the blanks, projecting their needs and dreams onto their own creation. The future for brands may be the same—creating an interactive platform for storytelling and meaning-making that is more generative and open-ended, less prescriptive and controlled. Brands will be more interactive and cooperative with people, rather than isolated creations that are revealed to consumers.”
Andy might have agreed, or not, with this approach to brand building, but he certainly would have described it a little more directly. In Mike Wrenn’s 1991 book “Andy Warhol: in his own words”, Warhol says of his work,
“I’d prefer to remain a mystery. I never like to give my background and, anyway, I make it all up different every time I’m asked. It’s not just that it’s part of my image not to tell everything, it’s just that I forget what I said the day before, and I have to make it all up over again.”
I will be at the FUSE conference in Chicago for the next few days – a place where brands are discussed with reverence and derision. If brands are changing, and package design is being redefined, this is a place where I should pick up that scent.
I plan on posting throughout, and I’ll let you know what I hear about scaffolds, meaning-making, and making it up.