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Mysterious Ways


Mysteries make the world go round. There’s just something about the unknown that enthralls and intrigues us. Where did the strange stone heads of Easter Island come from and what is their significance? What happened to all the sea-and-sky-faring vessels that disappeared in the Bermuda Triangle? Was JFK assassinated with a magic bullet, and who, really, was Jack the Ripper?

These enigmas, and many others, have been the subject of everything from extensive research, provocative literature and aggressive debate, to music, movies and popular culture. Some mysteries, like why lemmings commit mass suicide (they don’t, it’s just migration) have been debunked, but many others, such as sightings of the Loch Ness monster, Bigfoot and the Abominable Snowman, still have not been convincingly disproved despite modern technology.

Mysteries, you see, have the power to engage, create conversation and, as they say in this day and age, “go viral.” Maybe that’s why some of today’s biggest brands are also some of the most mysterious, albeit in different ways.

Google is mysterious because you’ll never know what they’re going to do next. From Google Doodles, countless Easter eggs and elaborate April Fool’s jokes, to mind-blowing initiatives like Project Re: Brief, the brand is as unexpected as it is ubiquitous… and we love them for it. What’s next from Google? We’re waiting with feverish anticipation.

What does the man your man could smell like, smell like? Old Spice combined old school (sic) cool with manic new age irreverence… whether you loved the advertising or hated it, it’s likely that you remembered it for its sheer out-of-this-world entertainment value. Whether you think that it’s blatant no-holds-barred in-your-face hit-or-miss humour pushed to insane degrees or total comic genius in action, the big mystery is… what does Old Spice smell like to have sparked off such ingenious, cut-through creativity?

And of course, no talk of mystery would be complete without at least mentioning Apple’s penchant for Pentagon-like secrecy when it comes to their new products. It’s not at all surprising that fans go through previews, announcements and teasers for the next big Apple launch with a fine tooth comb to uncover “clues” and “hints” as to what the new i-something or another would be, look and feel like. It’s like a rite of passage for every Apple enthusiast to scour obscure news sources to find out even the tiniest detail, with a fervor that borders on obsession. What is this all-consuming allure, and why has it rarely, if ever, been matched by any other brand?

You have your brand positioning, brand values, brand essence, brand beliefs, brand language, brand identity, and that’s all good and proper.

But to really make it in today’s speed-of-thought, hyper-fragmented, ultra-congested, info-overload borderless marketplace, you’d do well to add an element of mystery.

The reason is simple; in a world where even the most obscure piece of data can be tracked down by a moderately intelligent person with a web connection, knowing something that others don’t gives you an edge. It’s leverage for the Internet generation, and it’s been proven to build brands up to a cult-like status.

So, what’s your brand mystery? Time to find out before someone else does.

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