Primal Branding: Overview

After finishing the book, these are some thoughts on using Primal Code as a concept and overall marketing tool.

I enjoyed this book a great deal. It expanded my limited understanding of marketing and rooted it in the fertile ground of created myth, which is a subject I know much more about. Myths are powerful narratives that operate on the level of the collective unconscious. By being conscious about the application of certain “tribal” human needs, a company, persona, product or destination can fulfill the fundamental wish to be part of a community that follows a clear cut belief system.

Hanlon’s seven part model is a useful tool in building a brand’s strength, appeal and loyalty over time. And the same seven part model can be used to do what Hanlon calls a Primal Dig. That is, re-engineering a failing or incomplete brand (usually one that is missing pieces of the code) to function optimally in the current market. Once again, these are the seven pieces of primal code.

  • Creation Story – Where are you from?
  • Creed- core principles and beliefs that define the product
  • Icons – concentrations of meaning in sensory categories
  • Rituals – meaningful, repeated points of contact with customer
  • Pagans – non-believers in the creed further define the brand
  • Sacred Words – a unique lexicon emerges for brand devotees
  • The Leader – an equanimous visionary who communicates clearly

Fleshing out these seven parts makes up the first half of the book. The second half deals with how the sum of these parts creates community- that intangible something we all long for and which constitutes a brand. This narrative articulated for me an indescribable something I sensed but wasn’t able to quite grasp before reading the book. There are loads of in-depth case studies to drive the point home.

Having recently seen Spider-Man: No Way Home, I’d say it’s the perfect case study for implementing primal coding. The audience was made up of raving, loyal fans who, though strangers, were United for those couple of hours as part of a community. The phenomenal box office success of that franchise is testimony to that fact.

Hanlon also discusses the importance of internal branding to make loyal community members out of employees – a huge and often undervalued part of communicating the brand value to customers. From a personal perspective I can see how individuals can develop their own personal brand and thereby achieve a considerable advantage over competitors. All in all, an incredibly powerful and useful set of tools. If I were you, I’d read it.

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