We’ve all heard the phrase “elephant in the room” to describe a very large issue that everyone is well aware of, yet nobody wants to talk about. But when is the elephant in the room not such a big, bad deal? Well, what if that room was decorated so as to mimic the sweeping plains of Africa… or even better – what if you invited the rest of its herd in as well… proudly welcoming and acknowledging each odd guest for the majestic creatures they are – trunks, tusks, big ears and all. The outlandish would then in fact become the norm, as both a sense of belonging, and strength and safety in numbers became prevalent.
Such is the powerful nature of brand… transforming challenges into positives, creating lush sanctuaries from the most modest of spaces, and capable of bettering the lives (or at least the Feng Shui) of African elephants everywhere.
Although they might appear a little unusual in your room, elephants are strong, loyal, family-oriented and emotionally driven. They also never forget – be it a safe watering hole, a quality product of great value, exceptional customer service, or the names and ranks of their favourite Star Trek characters.
Yes, you read that right. Elephants thrive within Roddenberry’s utopia. They identify with and support each other. They learn from and play with each other. They are free to seek new adventures and brave new worlds (relatively) free from contempt and ostracization. More commonly known as Trekkies, or in some sub-cultures – Nerdists, this particular breed of elephant eagerly trades tangible wealth, content contributions and brand support in exchange for on-and offline fandom exploits allowing for camaraderie, security, acceptance and hope. Their rooms are decked out not like the plains of the Serengeti, but in the bold tapestries of cosplay conventions, multi-layered websites and chatrooms, and rich, immersive gaming experiences. The Star Trek brand lives long and prospers; nurtured and well fed on the hearts, minds, wallets and rallying trumpet cries of its herd.
For those of you not liking the likening of your audience to space-themed role-playing pachyderms, try replacing the term Trekkie with comic book fanatic, boyband fangirl, or people on a journey of deep spiritual awakening. The ironic truth shared by these previously closeted and oft ridiculed herds remains just as huge and undeniable as a red-shirted, pointy Spock-eared elephant in a pro-sport locker room. These Nerdists are redefining both social and cultural acceptances as well as the notion of what is “cool” and “trendy” in modern societal circles as they lift once obscured brands and profit margins with breakneck speed and determination. But this was not always the case…
Previously, brands were often thrust upon the public by means of dominant placement and frequency in the hopes of achieving cultural and monetary success through attempted manipulation and submission of the masses. More monologue than conversation, these brands cared less for the betterment of their consumers and more for the positioning of their commodities; tossing wide nets into the most popular pools – ever jockeying for the most lucrative position from which to lure and capture the biggest, most desirable, trend-setting fish. And all the while, the elephants on the shore went unnoticed. Their massive potential for brand power, loyalty and influence – as well as their affluence through sheer size and numbers naively devalued due to their shameful status as evolutionary misfits cast from the “cool” waters of conformity.
Today’s successful brands, however, are wise to acknowledge all the beautiful elephants (wrinkles and all) and their willingness to share the work load if given a chance to roam free, explore, and express and celebrate their individuality within the protection of a like-minded herd. Your unique brand is best served not by forcing yourself into the fickle popular majority, but by the creation, nurturing and empowering of a loyal niche audience.
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