Harry Potter and Brand Universes
Last Monday, June 26, marked the 20th anniversary of the publishing date of the first Harry Potter book. It also reminded me of one of the best marketing talks I've ever attended.
Well, the best ... that's actually a lot to say. The thing is, I don't know when or where or why I attended that conference or workshop or talk. It must have been at least 15 years ago. But, it for sure made a huge impression on me. I have often thought about what I learned, and lately even more since we at Skona are doing more and more brand strategies.
This talk focused on branding, the importance of creating a brand universe. The speaker was of the opinion that this could explain Harry Potter's success. The magic world that J.K.Rowling has created exists alongside the Muggle one; it has its own rules and laws, words (like muggle), currency, fauna and flora, sports (Quidditch), and traditions. He gave two other examples (you know, the rule of three) but I don't remember the other two - just Harry Potter.
And I agree. I do think the reason why Harry Potter is such a success is this parallel fantasy world with its own unique set of attributes - brand attributes. Harry Potter is one of the strongest brands in the world. You read the books, enter the Harry Potter world, and you know what to expect. Think about other strong brands; when you walk into their universe you know what is likely to happen. Your brand, your universe, is the experience you create for your costumers. It's bigger than values and personality. It's as much about temperament and philosophy.
Therefore, we have added an exercise to our brand workshops where we talk about the brand universe: Imagine your brand as a country, how are the natives, the language, their humor, and attitudes; what is special about you, and what do you want to share with people visiting? Because rarely it's your product that is your unique selling point; it's who you are, the sum of it all, that in the end sets you apart.
And "apart" is where we all want to be.
PS. I have read the Harry Potter books over and over. I have a hard time picking one book over another, but I think "Harry Potter and Prisoner of Azkaban" is the best movie. If you are planning to go to London, you have, have, have to visit the studio, it's just a great experience whether you are a huge or a somewhat fan.