How to create mythic value in brand communications

Anthropologist Claude Levi Strauss in his paper on the structural study of myth wrote that myths are still widely interpreted in conflicting ways: collective dreams, the outcome of a kind of aesthetic play, the foundation of ritual. Mythological figures are considered as personified abstractions, divinised heroes or decayed gods. Whatever the hypothesis, the choice amounts to reducing mythology either to an idle play or to a coarse kind of speculation.

So what makes myths timeless? The key behind the timelessness of a myth is that it embodies a contradiction. A myth lives on because it is a union of the opposite sides of the spectrum.

So how to create and communicate mythic value in brand communications?

  1. First step is to identify the brand attributes as well as brand associations.
  2. Second, identify the opposites of these attributes. So if one attribute is youthful, the opposite will be vintage.
  3. Now it the time plot the opposites and identify the new window of opportunity. For example if the other two opposites are economical and expensive. Then if the norm or quadrant where the brand is operational is youthful and economical, the brand now needs to find a new window of opportunity that cannot be a conventional quadrant, for example, vintage and expensive. It always has to be an unconventional quadrant, for example, youthful and expensive or vintage and economical. Something that looks impossible.
  4. It is only once you have identified the window of opportunity for example, vintage and economical, the brand and communication planning begins.
  5. So the new positioning and the communication thereof will be with the new attributes in the new window of opportunity.

So once you have been able to capture the contradictions in your brand the key is to work towards creating a new niche.  After that, it is all about communications.

Now let me share a few key points for sharing mythic value:

  1. Whenever you communicate, make sure both the contradictions are showcased.
  2. It needs to be suitably tailored to showcase a greater part of one contradiction than another. However, never forget to showcase both as the mythic value is created only with co-existence of contradictions.

Let me conclude with one of the greatest examples of mythic value —  Auguste Rodin’s The Thinker. It is a perfect embodiment of body and mind, the two greatest contradictions known to man.  So when The Thinker is cited in a communication of mind’s superiority, the body, the contradiction of mind, becomes the secondary attribute in communication. Similarly, in art when the perfection of the male body is appreciated, the mind’s communication will have to be take a backseat. But the overall communication will have to at all times remind the audience of the contradiction it represents – both and at the same time.

So go ahead and make your brand mythic.

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Mahul Brahma
Prof (Dr.) Mahul Brahma is Dean and Professor of NSHM Media School and NSHM Design School. He is a Visiting Research Fellow at Bath Business School, Bath Spa University, UK. He is former Professor, Dean of School of Media and Communications and Director of Communications at an Indian university.

Prof Brahma was Chief Editor and Head of CSR, Corporate Communications and Branding, Publishing and Conferences for a Tata Steel and SAIL JV, mjunction. He is a D.Litt in luxury and communications, and a PhD in Economics. He is a TEDx speaker on the mythic value of luxury.

He won Sahityakosh Samman in 2022 and 2023, Crisis Communications Leader of the Year Award in 2021 and several other national-level awards in communications and CSR. He is a luxury commentator and award-winning author of 10 books – 'Bharat, A Luxe Story', The Quiet Luxe, Aesthetic Leadership in Luxury, Mostly Missing: Be Silly Be Slow, The Mythic Value of Luxury, How to Communicate Strategically in Corporate World, the Luxe Trilogy (Decoding Luxe, Dark Luxe and Luxe Inferno) and Quarantined: Love in the time of Corona.

He is an alumnus of Indian Institute of Management - Calcutta, St Xavier’s College, MICA, Sri Satya Sai University, and University of Cambridge Judge Business School. He is a golfer with a 7 handicap.

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