What can a revelation about Transformers 3 teach us all about brand management?
Film directors, as with writers and artists, are as much a brand as Volvo, Sony or the local greengrocer.
Some people follow particular directors because they love their style and story-telling ways. Quentin Tarantino. Stanley Kubrick. Steven Spielberg. The Wachowskis.
Most of these directors have signature styles or shots. Tarantino is a master of dialogue. Kubrick used the track and pan to enormous effect. Michael Bay – the ‘father’ of this post – is the master of the slow-mo track shot, camera pointing upwards to the hero of the piece, elevating them and their situation above the norm.
Brands too have signatures. BMW wants to sell you joy. Volvo sells reliability. Sony sells you gaming experiences. I build my brand on creating interaction, on looking at things differently to other people. And so on.
We learn to recognise a brand – whatever that brand is – by the way that it interacts and intersects with us. It’s like a fingerprint, a unique strand of DNA that lets us, as the consumer, navigate through a complex world.
So back to Michael Bay. I want to refer you to this Youtube video, posted by Little White Lies.
You can probably guess my point. Bay has plagiarised another film. OK, so it’s his own film. But these sequences are obviously the same pieces of footage, just with different CGI over the top.
I paid to go and see this film – and the ticket cost was my price of entry into not only the cinema brand, but the Bay brand as well.
I invested my time and my hard earned money, in going to see this work.
This plagiarised work.
This derivative work.
This lazy work.
The result? I no longer trust him as the creator of original works.
If your consumers stopped trusting you to produce original works, if they stopped trusting in the core abilities and competencies that you’ve sold yourself to them on, what would happen to your brand, and then your business?
I admit that we need some replication in our work – the continuity is how our consumers recognise us. Without it, we’d be noisy and unnavigable.
But we should never, ever, pass off unique content when it’s something that’s repackaged from another work.
Consumers are savvy. Consumers know. And consumers are fully entitled to simply go elsewhere to a brand that doesn’t try to pull the wool over their eyes.
So thank you, Michael Bay, for illustrating how to tarnish a brand in one simple, easy move. Now I want my ticket price back.