Brands planks, heroes and additives.

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What is heroic about Miracle Whip? What is heroic about the North Shore LIJ Health System? One is a dollop on a sandwich, another is a healthcare org that saves lives. What is heroic about Windham Mountain?  Actually, in the winter the resort has a program for the physically challenged – that’s pretty heroic.

In brand planning I love probing consumers for heroes and pride; rich areas that get to the heart of a person.  Yet many planners ask questions such as “Tell me how you use mayonnaise?” “What’s your favorite sandwich and why?”  “Share with me a story about the best place you ever ate a sandwich?” All nice tactical questions, but not brand plank questions.  And don’t get me wrong, not every brand has or needs heroic traits. In fact, for mayonnaise the notion is silly. But an ad about a kid who stands up to a bully in the school cafeteria and is rewarded with a tasty sandwich may be compelling to a mom.  Context.

Sometimes a brand plank may not have endemic value — it may be aspirational and tangential. It may not relate to heroics or pride but align with other human emotions.  As brand planners, we have to organize brand planks with hard values and soft values.  Just the right amount of lemon can turn Miracle Whip into Hellman’s. Hee hee. Peace!