For centuries, theater of the mind has been used to train people to improve their memories. Theater is a good metaphor to describe the different world of the brand that we enter into when we read a print ad, watch a television commercial or interact with a digital ad online.
What are the basic elements of the theater? First, there is a stage that frames the experience. Second, there are actors on the stage. Third, there may be props that help facilitate the action or advance a storyline. In short, the theater can be described in terms of place, people and things. We can use these creative elements to describe a brand by looking at each of these 3 P’s.
When we read a novel, watch a movie, play a videogame or go to the theater, an essential part of the experience is that we are transported to a different place, separate from our everyday world. So, too, with advertising. The brand place frames the brand experience.
Places are containers in which we store emotions. Home is where the heart is. We fight loyally for our country. We still cheer for our college team, even when we’re eighty.
Every brand must present a human face to the world. They must project unique personalities, attitudes and a sense of style for users to identify with or aspire to.
Companies learned long ago the value of own-able trade characters like Tony the Tiger or Mr. Clean. It is easier to maintain a consistent image in memory if the brand is personified as a continuing character in the advertising.
The advertising manager must act like a casting director, focusing on the role and not the actor when casting their particular brand for a performance in the consumer’s interior theater. Mickey Mouse is the archetypal child that evokes feelings of nurturing. Apple’s brand expresses a “cool” style that conveys individuality and creativity.
Archetype research into the deep cultural memories of the mind—rebel, sage, trickster or hero—is a key genre of research for identifying those dramatic roles that may be appropriate for your brand’s play.
Think of the product as a prop that we use to facilitate our actions in the physical world or to furnish our experience of our inner world.