The brand who lived: Lessons from Harry Potter
As a marketer, I often get ideas from the most uncanny of places. Literature is a great source of inspiration and ideation. It filters the multiple spheres of content and forms cohesive words that drive brands toward success. On a research excursion, I came across what researchers were calling 'the most influential book in the world'. Ironically, it wasn't a book on business planning, medical mythology or rocket science. It was a novel about witches and wizardry. Known as 'the boy who lived', the book was about 'Harry Potter.'
It seems that, when branded properly, even a fictional novel geared for young adults can be powerful. Here's some of what I learned from the protege with a scar on his forehead:
J.K. Rowling is a fabulous author. She streamlined her entire branding approach pretty much the same way that Apple, Nike and Coca Cola have. Throughout her books and multimedia channels, the message remained a constant. 'The boy who lived' remained an iconic term. Words like 'quidditch', 'Voldemort', 'dementors' and lightning bolts have become direct associations that are exclusive to the brand and its followers. With laser sharp focus, any brand can become memorable, even iconic.
Prepare your strategy:
Every answer found in book 4 was known in book one. They were never disclosed, but having a very clear vision and path of execution is vital for the success of content and artwork. It's never a good idea to work your way upward. Instead, when marketing a strategy, know the entire picture first. Oftentimes, clients opt to start small and take it as it comes. It may work for some, but the general rule is to establish the mile markers for a comprehensive marketing strategy before starting with step one.
Leave room for surprise:
Never disclose all of your brand's interest in the first release. Leave ads compelling enough, and products sparingly shared, to leave room for the aha moment. Generate curiosity before satiety. Thought before visuals. The very best campaigns are those which open topics of conversation.
Choose your audience:
Perhaps the greatest asset for Rowling has been her target audience of choice. She appealed to teens and young adults, evolving hipsters and curious minds. She attracted the ages of 11-25, actively engaged in social media, as her primary target. This decision caused a series of viral marketing that had little or nothing to do with her efforts in doing so. When you give your audience exactly what they wished for, they become your biggest fans. Fans translate to positive advertisement and online presence gone viral. A clear cut target audience will always filter your very best content sources to deliver on point branding and marketing. It helps completely focus your message and reach less people at a greater percentage of return.
Make your mark memorable:
Harry Potter's iconic lightning bolt scar happened as an infant, precisely when the story begins on a dark and stormy night in London. Left at the doorstep of a 'muggle' family, he becomes an icon. The lightning bolt became his brand theme and you can have one too. Your lightning bolt may be a laser focused name, chant worthy slogan or memorable logo. Your branding should stick and it should also stick out.
Hard work pays off.
Before her days of fame, J. K. Rowling was a hardworking author who worked after hours to complete her passionate works. On a frugal budget, she'd sit at food joints and jot down chapters of the soon to be famous book on dinner napkins. While she possessed a great talent, she didn't allow that to get in the way of her struggle. It's never a good idea to expect greatness to come at the heels of talent. It's not an automatic process. Instead, it'll always be hard work that brings results and recognition. Own a business? Thinking of a start up? 'Go big or go home' is the phrase to use after you've put in the effort. There has never been an overnight success that didn't take a period of struggle.
Influence will follow:
It's amazing how much influence a young character can have. Having influenced a whole lot more than just wizardry, Harry Potter has successfully influenced trends of style. Round spectacles, for example, are a signature Daniel Radcliffe look, the character playing Harry Potter. It comes at the heels of a shabby chic society and hip movement. It's no coincidence that branding generates trend. What can you do to be an influencer?
Make your brand 'the brand that lived' and make it live on.