Two centuries of branding theory and practice boiled down to two lines

“No solo hay que serlo, hay que parecerlo.”

It’s not enough to be — you also have to seem.

In my notebook this absolute gem is attributed to Jaime Echegoyen, the CEO of Spanish bank Bankinter (a company for whom I worked on a couple of projects while I was at Saffron), and I’ve always loved it. There’s real wisdom there, a deep truth.

Because what people ‘get’ about you is strictly limited to how you seem to them.

And yet, while it is difficult, usually impossible, for an entity’s brand to seem too awfully different from how the entity actually is, being and seeming *are* different things, distinct concepts.

Jaime’s pithy quote suggests a simple, two-step model for brand building:

1) Actually be the way you would like to appear to people. (Socrates had this one worked out two millenia ago: “The way to gain a good reputation is endeavor to be what you desire to appear.”); then…

2) Make some additional efforts to appear the way you really are.

Is branding really, truly any more complicated than that?

The Death of Socrates by Jacques-Louis David, 1787

The Death of Socrates by Jacques-Louis David, 1787

1 Comment

  1. Monday, 7 September 2009 at 12:56 ·

    Jeremy, great post–its brief; it quotes Socrates; and its profound. If this is what comes from the “intersticies of life,” I’d like directions to your house. :o )

    As for my thoughts on seeming and being, from a philosophical or religious point of view, I am in the habit of thinking about the challenge of rebuilding the world and self in terms of the “already” and the “not yet.” Starting with what is Already, we strive towards what is Not Yet.

    On the other hand, and also in the religious vein, hypocrisy is a cancer Jesus described as a whitewashed tomb: pretty on the outside but inside “full of dead men’s bones.”

    From this vantage point, then, the challenge of branding is a realistic appraisal of the already (being) and not yet (seeming) without falling into the trap of hypocrisy.

    Thanks again. Keep up the good work.

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