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Go Logo! A Handbook to the Art of Global Branding by Mac Cato

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39
Chapter 4
The Power of Myths and Archetypes
M
any years ago, Marshall McLuhan, an often quoted 1960s societal behav-
ioral philosopher, coined the phrase “the medium is the message.” One
could immediately guess that this phrase was going to become a staple in
many learned discussions about our changing times. The essence was easy
enough to grasp; McLuhan was stating as a practical fact that technology,
not what we do with it, alters our culture, society, relations, and dialogues. The technologies
of communications cause change in our societies, regardless of their content or how individ-
uals think about them and use them.
Was he right? Absolutely. Television itself
was pretty simple; you bought one, turned
it on, and watched whatever was available.
But electronic media today is not simple. Its
uses are complex, they change rapidly, and
no one is sure just how much our societies
are affected as a result.
My branch of the creative global warrior
tribe doesn’t worry about this anymore.
We believe that the medium is just the mes-
senger; the messages are still the point. Of
course, as noted earlier in this book, the
definition of what content is has changed
dramatically. YouTube and MySpace are
examples of how accurate McLuhan’s
prediction has proven to be.
But the creative brand warrior’s task is gen-
erally not to just create new major content
(films or folk operas, for example), but to
persuade others to buy a client’s wares or
buy into a societal persuasion cause. And
the proliferation of message delivery sys-
tems is almost irrelevant; a good, inventive
selling proposition will work across any
medium. Capturing the magic is what still
counts with clients—if it works in the mar-
ketplace. The branding goal should always
be the creative adaptation of a timeless
story, the capture of the essence of a uni-
versal myth, or the clever use of the arche-
types that lie at the center of all longing and
belonging brands.
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Go Logo! A Handbook to the Art of Global Branding40
The familiar over-the-top logo of the 20th Century Fox movie
studios has been simplified and cleverly redesigned for Fox
television and cable usage. (Design: Bright Strategic Design
& Branding)
The Disney event calendar is a reminder of
the good times at Walt Disney World. (Design:
AdamsMorioka)
Essentially, a myth is human action that has
been transformed into a story, or, to say it
another way, it’s the verbalization of human
action. For designers and other visually ori-
ented creatives, the challenge is to visually
dramatize the verbal story into new formats,
without straying from the defining myth.
Chanel has developed many ad campaigns
over the years, but it’s the spirit and the
mystique of Paris, along with the mythical
story of the founder’s life, that has allowed
the brand to diversify and keep the allure of
Chanel very much alive. The Disney brand
also lives on in the imaginations of millions
of global citizens. The brand has traveled
a long way from the mouse with big ears,
but its continuing association with animated
stories, thrilling but ultimately safe adven-
tures, and childhood innocence ensures that
the cognitive unconscious of generations of
families holds nothing but positive images
about the brand. Rarely, if ever, has a brand
extension into three-dimensional form been
more successful. There are many imitators,
but only one Walt Disney World experience.
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