Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Branding & Burning Man Lesson #2: Trust: Fire Purifies. Fear Paralyzes.

It is hot and dry on the playa. I mean really hot and really dry. I do not know how much water (okay, not enough water, but ample amounts of Rock Star and alcohol) I consumed, but I do not remember going pee the whole time I was there. I just kept sweating. Heat is a constant at Burning Man. I mean, the event ends with a blaze of fire. The burning of the man was cool, but there was another purposeful fire out on the playa—the burning of the Temple of Forgiveness.

The Temple was a wooden structure that people visited to let “things” go—issues, pains, opinions, losses, ideals, fears, etc. The idea was to write your “thing” down and place it at the Temple. Later in the week, the Temple was burned and your “thing” was burned with it…allowing you to move forward with a fresh start.

Visiting the Temple was powerful. There were people crying, laughing,
connecting. I placed my own “thing” on the Temple. It felt good. It was a burden that kept me frozen. I was afraid to share it with people. I was afraid to expose it. I was afraid.

The Temple was just a wooden structure. There was nothing magical about it. The magic was in the process. I had to trust the process. I had to acknowledge that fire purifies and fear paralyzes. This is true for a person and true for a brand.

Fire Purifies.
Some people don’t like to set fire to their “things” and I content that some brands try to avoid fire as well. A brand will be built and launched. The market will interact with the brand and imperfections will surface. A smart brand manager will use the fire of the marketplace to continue to refine and purify the brand. The market--the user--is a brand’s fire. Trust that the users know how to best purify your brand. After all, the market is ultimately the definer of a brand.

Fear Paralyzes.
Some people are frozen in time as a result of their “things.” Brand suffer the same fate. I have even seen an unnatural fear to launch a brand based on the assumed market response. If that is the case, there are two options: 1) internal fire and purification, or 2) external fire and purification. Either way, paralysis is not helpful.

The heat of Burning Man provided a lot of trust opportunities. As I trusted more people, the playa, myself, I came to enjoy the experience more and more. Look at every fire that is available and seek to purify the brand. I was there for a limited amount of time, just as brands have a limited lifespan, and I wanted to maximize my experience. I knew trust was going to play a key role in that. And what an experience it was…

Additional Chapters
Give (coming soon)
Protect (coming soon)
Educate (coming soon)
Go (coming soon)
Final Thoughts (coming soon)

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