The logo on the bottom of the Southwest airplane is a heart. Do you think it’s an accident that millions of Southwest passengers perceive the airline to be the “heart in the sky?”
Few Leaders understand exactly how important imagery is in connecting to the hearts of their customers. Most leaders want to create imagery that will attract EVERYONE. Simply put, that’s impossible: when you try to be all things to all people, you don’t become meaningful to anyone.
Your imagery will attract certain people and repel others. Cult Brands like Southwest, Apple, and Harley-Davidson not only realize this, they capitalize on it.
Think about the blazing eagle tattoo of your typical HOG (Harley Owners Group) attendee.
Does seeing that image excite you?
Or do you say to yourself, “No thanks.”
The point is that you’re either a lover of the Harley-Davidson brand, or you’re not.
Why do images have so much power?
Our logos and marks are symbols. Symbols are triggers of archetypal images—energy patterns that rest in the unconscious. These primordial images are not personal to each but are aspects of the “collective” of all of us. Renowned Swiss psychoanalyst Dr. Carl Jung highlighted that these archetypal images are the building blocks of thought. These unconscious, archetypal images lay the foundation for the experience customers have with your brand.
The images you create in your logos and marks—the symbols—are a signals to customers about what the brand represents.
In Man and His Symbols, Dr. Jung included an old Volkswagen advertisement with an aerial view of Beetle toy cars forming the shape of the Volkswagen logo. He noted that the advertisement “may have a ‘trigger’ effect on a reader’s mind, stirring unconscious memories of childhood. If these memories are pleasant, the pleasure may be associated (unconsciously) with the product and brand name.”
Leaders must find ways to influence customers through the use of powerful imagery positively. Only by understanding the images in our customers’ hearts can we create images that will connect with their minds and drive them to choose us more often than our competitors.
Our job as leaders is to understand better the meaning behind the energy patterns that give meaning to the forms we represent through our imagery. And once we understand them, our communications must continually support those meanings: Harley-Davidson must constantly strive to stay a rebel; Nike must try to overachieve; Southwest Airlines must continue to be loving, compassionate, and caring towards its passengers. If you betray the image that’s connected to the customers’ hearts, you’ll quickly repel the cherished customers you’re trying to build a long-lasting relationship with.
The power of branding lies in your ability to creatively associate your brand in highly relevant ways to your customers.
Your marks, logos, and images have to be involved in a profound aspect of your clients’ hearts. Take time to understand what’s meaningful to your customers—to comprehend what’s in their hearts. Only then can you hope to connect with them on a deeper, more meaningful level and create a powerful brand that’s irreplaceable in the hearts and minds of your customers.