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Branding Blog

Don’t Be Afraid to Reclaim Clichés


I can’t help but notice that we’ve recently journeyed into a pretty interesting realm of movie making that could controversially be categorised as less of an art form and more of a get-rich-quick scam.

There are reboots, re-adaptations and rehashed stories that have been told over and over again that I frankly don’t think were even necessary to begin with. But out of these retold timeless classics, there are a few that standout.

For instance, the new blockbuster hit, Looper.

At surface value, a standard genre topic about time travel that goes along covering every time travel cliché in the book! But with this said, the movie never acts embarrassed or over thinks about bring back some of the most overused time travel ideas.

It doesn’t try too hard to put its own original spin on an idea that has been done before and doesn’t try fool its audience with overly complicated (yet made up) scientific terms about time travel (unlike Avatar and the magic mineral Unobtanium). It’s a fresh take on a topic we feel so jaded about and by executing it with zero irony or apologies, it feels new again.

Let’s talk about Drive.

This art house flick was one of the biggest sleeper hits of 2011. The premise was as old as the history of action movies. The protagonist was essentially a hitman disguised as a Hollywood stunt driver. Anyone who’s seen enough action movies wouldn’t have to second-guess what comes next. You’ve got your badass, token hot chick and he wrecks havoc with the aid of his car.

It was nothing of the sort.

Drive was brutally intense not from hard pounding action but rather from the lack of it. Volumes could be written about the implications of his actions because the main character was essentially a blank slate. It was less about him but more regarding the motivation behind his actions.

This movie is its own beast and it is a rare feat in the realm of Hollywood clichés to make a movie this near perfect from an arc that has been done to death.

So what it all boils down to is not being afraid of reclaiming clichés.

Parallel to the world of branding, we can look at modern day brands that choose to not reinvent the wheel but instead take existing products and bring it to the next level.

Air Asia is no ordinary airline company. They’ve branched out into several industries such as telecommunications, hotels and recently, they’ve even forayed into the music industry. Their ‘No Frills’ motto has won the hearts of consumers who live in a cost-conscious society.

Additionally, one could easily lose count at the amount of footwear manufacturers in the world today, so what makes Nike stick out in a sea of imitators? Their stance on winning.

Nikes branding presence is undeniable and globally appreciated. Armed with powerful, motivational quotes that adorn their commercials and posters such as ‘Just Do It’ and ‘Yesterday You Said Tomorrow’, Nike has singlehandedly inspired consumers onto their brand because of how well they’ve executed a single truth.

So just like storytelling, at the end of the day it’s about being clear and focused, telling a single story well, without extravagance and unnecessary complications.

Looper; instead of focusing on the mechanics and science of time travel, they used it as a vehicle to tell a tale of love and redemption.

Drive; instead of creating yet another long-winded high-octane car chase scene, they used old caper-movie conventions to develop a gripping character study.

In the case of branding; if you can identify and focus on a single truth and tell your story well, then you’ve got a blockbuster brand on your hands.

How is your story being told?

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