Crafting a Living Brand: Tips from the Trenches

Margo Jay
7 min readFeb 24, 2021

Marketers used to talk a lot about building brands, creating solid foundations. These were brands that were built to last. Even if our building went out of style or we ended up with a leak or something, we could always renovate or restore.

Now, though, Marketers are starting to think about our brands a little differently. We’re thinking of our brands not as inanimate objects but as living organisms. And, with this thought, I don’t mean crafting a representative Customer like a Susan that we hypothetically use to make executional decisions with.

A living thing can grow and change. It adapts to its environment, and it changes so it can keep thriving, even as the world around it changes. This living brand concept is perfect for the environment we find ourselves in today. More and more, our brands are being asked to adapt as people, the world around us change. And we need to think about how we relate t o those around us.

So perhaps the question is how do we get from built to last to running our business as a living brand?

1. Find the Taproot of the Brand

The best analogy for a living brand is a tree. Trees are amazingly adaptable! You may have seen one growing on the side of a rocky cliff and wondered just how it managed to survive there for years. Trees grow tall, but they also grow sideways or in a corkscrew; they grow around fences we put in their way. They wave in the wind so their branches don’t snap off. And they grow intricate root systems that both anchor them and help them find the water they need to thrive.

The taproot is the most important part of that network, because it brings in the water. That sustains the tree, so we can think of this as the core of the tree.

Our brands have taproots that nourish them and replenish them. I like to call this this essence of a brand. It represents your higher purpose.

Now, consider a “bucket” concept of kindness. Everyone has a bucket filled with kindness. When you compliment someone, you’re helping to fill their bucket. They can then help fill other people’s buckets. Kindness is what replenishes the bucket.

Margo Jay

Marketing & Brand Expert | Customer Empath | Master Strategist | Deeper Insight | Finding extraordinary value | Driving competitive advantage |