“Making meaning” and Mercedes-Benz.

11 February 2006

Guy Kawasaki has talked about “making meaning” as one of the major foundations of good branding. (See his typically insightful post here.) I think he’s right.

The folks at Mercedes think so, too, apparently. They’re running advertisements that feature the tagline, “You’re Not Buying A Car. You’re Buying a Belief.” You can find details on the campaign here, or a bigger image of the specific ad here. The related press release is here.

(Let me just digress to say that enthusiast sites like eMercedesBenz are one of the greatest arguments for the existence of the Internet. Before right now, I didn’t know where to look, should I ever become engrossed in the doings of Mercedes. Now I know.)

The text of the ad makes the connection to Guy K.’s point for me: “The notion of building a Mercedes-Benz has always been an exceptionally meaningful endeavor. More than making a machine, we are upholding an ideal. . . .” Immediately I think of my father’s colleague who crashed in a Mercedes back in the 1960s. The car flipped a time or two, landed on its roof, and was damaged beyond repair. My father’s friend unbuckled his seatbelt, let himself out through the window, and walked away. This set of positive associations erodes any idea I might have that the Mercedes stands for acquisitive lust, and builds up the idea that “Mercedes” is a synonym for “excellence”.

That’s what making meaning is about.

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