There’s a new series on BBC TV called Faulks on Fiction, which in reassuring as-it-says-on-the-tin fashion is Sebastian Faulks taking an entertaining look at the world of novels. This week his subject was heroes and featured Ian Fleming and James bond.
Faulks receives useful and well-informed help from John Hegarty, described in the caption as “Brand consultant”, with justification when you consider the part he has played in the development of so many famous brands, but better known to marketers, simply as the Hegarty in Bartle, Bogle, Hegarty – another great brand. BBH, you’ll remember were, responsible for the Levi’s Launderette campaign , which I am sure I am not alone in believing, is the campaign that marked the coming of age of Brand Development.
Faulks hits the nail on the head in his analysis of Fleming’s genius in the creation of the Bond character, when he and Hegarty highlight the way Fleming defined Bond in terms of famous brands. In a featured interview, Fleming himself confirmed that brands are a great way to define a person. However, until Bond, this idea had never been fully exploited. Bond is Rolex, Ritz Hotel, Smirnoff, Dom Perignon and a whole lot more.
Regular readers of this blog will be familiar with the theme. I’ve explored, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs a number of times in the past, in particular, the theory that we are all gradually ascending to a point of self-actualisation, but currently stuck at a point where our goal is the approval of others and the pursuit of belonging. I have called this the “I am what I buy” or “I am what I wear” syndrome, which is represented admirably by this story and continues to be the heart of any well-founded brand strategy.
In fact, Bond matured to become an iconic brand himself, ironically adding substance to brands like Smirnoff and Aston Martin from which he was forged and many more besides in a kind of DNA cycle that is replicated in BBH – builders of brands that define their brand and the many other examples that surround us daily. I can think of no better illustration than James Bond of what brands and branding is all about.