- November 12, 2021
This article is part of a series on the future of architecture and design. We hope to inspire conversations about creating a better world for tomorrow, together.
Article by Robert Fiorino
Through time, people and places in your life will change. However, some things remain embedded – feelings. Why we get them, when and how, is a singular experience. The happiness a child projects, as they enter their favourite ice cream shop – delight from start to finish. There is no downside to this experience. Or taking a bite from your favourite sandwich – every layer having its own specific purpose, creating a beautiful composition of taste. Perhaps it’s sitting around a table, enjoying a meal with those close to you. You don’t have to speak the language to bond. There is an innate intimacy to sharing a meal.
For me, I vividly remember how I felt playing with Legos as a kid. Yes, Legos might be an obvious toy for a future architect, but they were so effective looking back now. They sparked curiosity and represented a concrete link with life’s possibilities. My only limitation was the amount of carpet space I had. The blocks fostered a drive to build and create something that otherwise existed in my mind – resulting in a sense of astonishment and achievement at a young age. The association of that memory, and the feeling that toy created, elevated that plastic block into a different realm of purpose that I still associate with to this day.
I have always held a deep association and connection to brands, fuelled by feelings and experiences.
Brands exist to articulate an experience and speak to a story within oneself, based on a certain point in your life. My relationship with brands changed alongside my worldviews, my age, and my self-perception. To quote a good friend, “once you change the way you look at things, the things you look at, change”. My filter was continually changing whether it was through a short sports career, close family losses, studies, new and old relationships, or the emergence into professional life. Brands have lasting power, whether we like it or not. The good ones figure out a way to reflect what’s necessary in a moment in time to stay relevant, becoming driven by purpose. They became the backdrop to my emotional state of mind – happiness, depression, achievement, or failure. Brands captured my trust, loyalty, and emotions for one reason or another.
In developing Lemay’s new identity and approach, we never strayed from what makes this place special and memorable. For the brand, we wanted to develop something that tangibly articulates the essence of who we are and how that collective essence can support the pursuit of social good, as an industry, within the broader context of society. We found ourselves using words like joy, delight, and generosity to frame what we set out to achieve as designers. We spoke of the experiences that these words evoked and how they could form the foundation of a relatable brand.
This notion that brands frame our lives isn’t novel. What has changed is the context in which brands are viewed. Any brand that wants to last will need to be more than a graphic or catch phrase. Having a logo and tag line is necessary and useful for a brand to stand out among the others, but there needs to be depth, meaning, and action that is based on the genuine premise of caring. Brands are now held accountable for actively participating in the pursuit of social good. Brand beliefs and values have now surpassed the importance of their services or products. Company and brand ethics are ever-more transparent. While brands may not have had a moral or ethical responsibility in the past, they absolutely do now. Forbes stated that 2020 “was the year that ‘purpose’ went mainstream”.
If purpose is now mainstream, are we truly being transparent on the issues and solutions we need to collectively progress on? While brands have always been driven by purpose, their purpose is now being reframed. Which isn’t a negative thing. Mistakes will be made but ultimately, we are working towards being better. We are learning and shifting together during uncomfortable times. Narratives change, as they should, but the approach above all is important. True progress needs a level of understanding and transparency among one another other to see clearly. Seeing clearly is necessary to fix the problems we face.
A truly great brand is a feeling. It’s a relationship. It’s a memory – like visiting an ice cream shop or sharing a meal. Its story becomes an invitation to become a part of something bigger. With the new collective shift from “me” to “we”, brands can also represent hope for future generations. Their newfound responsibility as social and environmental stewards afford them the ability to affect real change. Let’s all be accountable. Now is the time to come together, move forward, and affect real change.
Think of a brand you believe in. How does it make you feel? Hopefully, it’s your own ice cream shop experience.
Seasoned in global marketing and cross-functional team leadership, Robert is an experienced business strategist with proven expertise in establishing and managing mutually beneficial business partnerships. As an architect and business development professional, with strong technical expertise in construction and asset management, he delivered large-scale architectural projects in the commercial and retail sectors.