Lessons in brand relevance from Pride and Prejudice

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How is a book written over two hundred years ago still relevant to brand marketers today?

‘Twas the year 1813 when Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice first hit the bookstands and danced its way into the hearts of many a young woman (and man).  Two hundred years later, Pride and Prejudice has become one of the most popular books in English literature and spawned countless film/TV show adaptations. Truth be told, it’s actually my mom’s favorite book and we watch every series that’s ever been made or adapted.

How is it that a book written over two centuries ago, can still be found at the top of “most beloved books” lists today? It’s enduring power lies in its relevancy and recipe plotline. Human nature hasn’t changed, the characters you meet in Austen’s novel are people that can still be recognized today. They are relatable, and the reader forms an emotional connection with them. Similarly, brands that want to endure, must find that classic formula to stay relevant and form an emotional bond with their customers.

Making Your Brand Relevant To People’s Lives

Be Purposeful. Have a purpose, tell a compelling (but still genuine) story and deliver on it. Like Jane Austen via her classic novels to her readers, get your customers to become emotionally involved in your brand – to fall in love with you, to feel connected to your purpose and what you are trying to accomplish. Whole Foods – more than just a grocery store, has a greater purpose in mind:

Our motto—Whole Foods, Whole People, Whole Planet — emphasizes that our vision reaches beyond food retailing. In fact, our deepest purpose as an organization is helping support the health, well-being, and healing of both people — customers, Team Members, and business organizations in general — and the planet.

Be healthy? Help the world? That’s something I can and want to support.

Be Useful. Be a brand your customers can’t live without. Cliched, but Apple comes to mind for this one. Personally, I’m not an avid fan of the brand (can get into this another time), YET, for my tech needs, I own mostly Apple products – MacBook Pro, iPad, iPod, iPhone. Why is that? Because Apple’s products are durable, they offer seamless integration, they are simple to use and make my everyday easier. I like anything that makes my life easier.

Be Unique. Show some personality. One that people can connect to and get passionate about.  Zappos always comes to mind for me – getting an email that says, “Your shopping cart is empty, and it’s a little sad,” never fails to put a smile on my face and I like a brand that can make me smile…emotional connection, see where I’m going with this?

Offer an experience like no other (brand). And make it uniquely yours. Walt Disney doesn’t just offer a unique experience, they offer customers an opportunity to enter another world. From media entertainment (movies, TV shows, radio channel, video/computer games) to theme parks and resorts, Walt Disney takes children, adults, families on adventures unmatched by any other brand. It’s no surprise they made the number one slot on APCO Worldwide’s Top 100 Most Loved Companies.

Be Real. We’ve become much more interested in doing business with (rather, in striking relationships with) companies and brands who we feel share our same ideals and values. Who are you? What do you stand for? Why should we care? Give us something real to believe in and that we want to be a part of, and demonstrate this through your actions. As our company focuses in the health, wellness and leisure industries, brands like Lululemon, Walgreens (on the corner of health and happiness), Philosophy Skin Care, Chobani and Mrs. Meyers Cleaning Products pretty quickly come to mind.

Thanks to Jane Austen. I bet she never could have imagined the context in which we’d be talking about her book.

3 thoughts on “Lessons in brand relevance from Pride and Prejudice

  1. Great post Diana.

    Love how you drew the connection between the book and the subject of relevance.
    Proof that it pays to keep your mind and your eyes wide open to getting inspiration wherever you can find it.

    A brand really is nothing more than a lonely name if it’s not relevant to people’s lives. Because no one cares about a brand unless it speaks to, and acts in ways, that people care about.

    Think your last point about “keeping it real” could be the most important. Recognizing the big cultural shift that people want to see behind the curtain and be able to relate to, respect, believe in and see themselves in the brands they do business with.

    Here’s to Jane Austen.

  2. Totally relate to your comparisons, keen points, and brand examples (all I adore as well for many of the reasons you suggested).

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