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The Face Lift

by Prashant Nair


Have you ever wondered about the correlation between what we buy and what we look like? Not that literally, perhaps. I am trying hard not to make assumptions but there are few underlying feelings related to the similitude between the lives of brands and our own faces. There is a story and an anomalous romance between the two, regardless of our age. We are principally part of the same unspoken narrative and we all play the protagonist in it.

Imagine a time lapse of a human face set for a lifetime. From when we were toddlers to the time we will be stroking our late 70s. You may want to think of a volcano and its beautiful lava flow, as a metaphor for how your experiences, struggles and fleeting emotions of your life settles down on your face in the form of scars, wrinkles, and archived expressions of a lifetime. Each layer and every design on your face is a photograph. It is still in its composure but vivid in what it exudes.

Now imagine a great branding endeavor or trace the life path of a brand that survived more than a lifetime. Each re-branding endeavor or face lift is structured around the brand’s interactions, successes, battering, and acceptance with regards to its ever-changing and opinionated target audience. For all we know, survival and/or sustenance may have been the cornerstones for both, our lives and that of the brand.

Can we then suggest – a life is a brand and our fellow beings are our target audience? Or perhaps, we don’t know who our target audience is. Do we? Or maybe we never thought like that.

But brands and our life paths do intersect at all the times. For instance, why do you buy a Volkswagen or aspire to own a Burberry or flaunt an Apple. There are overlaps in plenty and it is an endless matrix of personality attributes, psycho-graphic mapping, along with relevance study on people and brands alike. Both universes are hinged on fragments of intangible emotions that we recognize as brand coherence enablers. These enablers are popularly termed as brand differentiators, by many. However, what has changed in present times is - nowadays people question the authenticity, quantifiability and origin of these “overlaps”.

Moreover, do we really introspect as to how we are changing the brands and how they are changing us? Sometimes we can zoom out or take couple of steps away from ourselves to take a look at the “bigger picture”. Examples of brands misleading individuals is known to us by way of news channels, fast food chains, the "pro-white" cosmetic industry, and so called pretentious luxury brands.

I always thought there must be a non-quantifiable reason as to why gigantic brand portfolios fail after a point. They cease to remain relevant with people. Their life paths deviate from ours and they stop communicating with the “now” that we are living in.

As very well thought by Wally Ollins in his book – Brand New, the reason for beingis not only a human quest now, it is how the brands live around us. In present times, they are keeping abreast with changing minimalism, authenticity and delivering live experiences. In short, brands are more human than ever. Cloning everything we do and feel like. Scary if you think of the repercussions, in terms of how we will make our buying choices, but opportunities for brands who want to stick a mile longer with us.

I had kept an old woman’s face (the cover picture of this article), for almost 4 weeks, as my desktop background and I didn't know what the picture would inspire within me. My fascination with face designs have lead me to believe the peripheral and humbling truths of lives around me. Some surviving and others sustaining.

We all live by our designs and it shows on our face like a braille script for even the blind to decipher the beauty of our narrative.