What the heck is branding anyway?

When talking with people about what I do I often get asked “What do you guys mean by brand development? What is that? A logo?”

It can certainly include the logo as a facet of a business’ brand and yet it is a whole lot more.  Successful branding helps a company differentiate themselves through various means. A logo or symbol often evokes the company’s identity but that is the surface recognition.  A company that is successful in branding themselves communicates beyond the logo or ad jingle and taps into the emotions that users have in dealing with the company.

After stewing on how to explain this, I think I’ve found perhaps the best example is this:

Stay Puft Marshmallow Man terrorizing New York

That’s right!  The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from the 1984 classic Ghostbusters.

Why, you ask?  Well this example actually works on two levels to explain what brand is.

  • If you’ve seen the movie you would have some sort of immediate reaction: Oh that’s a great seen, I love that movie, don’t cross the streams, etc. Stay Puft is immediately recognizable and evokes an emotional response on some level toward the movie and yet it is not the ghost logo that they use in and out of the movie.
  • In this scene Dr. Raymond Stantz’s (played by Dan Aykroyd) reaction to the situation is a total and successful expression of Stay Puft as a brand. Faced with the sheer terror of a god-like being ripping the world to shreds, Ray clings to something he finds comfort in.  He doesn’t say, ‘I picked it because I like marshmallows.’ He mentions that Stay Puft would never hurt him and that he used to roast them around the campfire.  This is a manifestation of how much the Stay Puft brand and their mascot meant to him in the past and now.


See for yourself.



What’s your favorite example of branding in a movie?

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