Some brands' value is all about their products. Others transcend the product. We all know which kind of brand we want: the profitable kind -- the one with the "mythological" aura.

Seth Godin wrote:

There are dozens, if not hundreds of entertainment mythological brands. James Bond and Barbie...

There's clearly a Google mythology and a Starbucks one as well...

...Santa and Ronald McDonald...

People use a Dell. They are an Apple.

It's easy to name the mythological brands -- just think of a product you feel a personal connection to.

It's harder to create a mythological brand.

How do you do it? Seth wrote:

So, if I were trying to invent a mythic brand, I'd want to be sure that there was a story, not just a product or a pile of facts. That story would promise (and deliver) an heroic outcome. And there needs to be growth and mystery as well, so the user can fill in her own blanks. Endorsement by a respected ruler or priest helps as well.

Great product. Great story. Great promise. Great mystery. Great hero.

Fairly simple. But not very easy.

Does your brand have a story? Is it great? Is it great in your customers' eyes, or just yours? How can you know?

Here's a clue:

If people like to talk about your brand in public, you're onto something.

(At least if they like to say good things about you!)

If your customers say nice things to you, but not to anyone else...well, it's a start. But you haven't achieved mythology yet. What's holding them back? Is there some nagging little problem with your product or brand that's making them uncomfortable publicly embracing it?

If so, fix it. Don't let something small and seemingly unimportant keep you from reaching the tipping point.

That's not to say you can't have flaws. Sometimes your quirky flaws are going to be the very things that make you worth talking about. Just don't make the mistake of thinking that the public will embrace any old flaw. There are quirks, and there are things that are downright embarrassing.

Heroes Are Heroic

Take another look at the mythological brands listed above. Most of them have heroes associated with them. How many of those heroes are boring, run-of-the-mill people?


You don't necessarily need the charisma and stage presence of Steve Jobs (though it certainly wouldn't hurt!) But you can't be dull.

The charm of some heroes is their mystery -- what they show the world is interesting, but you just know they're hiding something even more interesting. If you don't want to become a transparent public figure, maybe the enigmatic route would work for you.

Think Different

If you want to be the hero, it helps to have something about you that makes the crazies think you're a space alien. You're too smart to be human. Too charismatic. Too enigmatic. Whatever.

Back in the 90's, at the beginning of Apple's resurrection, they ran a series of ads with the theme "Think Different". Here's one:

(I remembering thinking at the time that Microsoft's tag line for Windows 95 should be "Thunk Different". If that makes you chuckle, congratulations, you've got some fairly obscure knowledge!)

The point is that if you haven't achieved the mythological status you've hoped for, you've got to stretch a little further than just making a good product.

You'll rarely become a myth merely by deserving it. You've got to give people something to truly, deeply, and in a very personal way, embrace.

Just do it.