To become a cultural icon can be seen as the ultimate condition of brand. As Holt explains,
« Iconic brands provide extraordinary identity value because they address the collective anxieties and desires of a nation. »
They provide consumers with identity values, shared by ritual actions in the populist world, relying on actual performances from the individual themselves. This type of branding goes far beyond mind-share brandig, emotional branding and viral branding, according to Holt, since the condition of myth for a brand seems to be a cause of viral spreading or emotional attachment for instance, not a consequence.
A brand that has become a “cultural icon” communicates with metaphors, symbols and imagination, in a very psychologic value, rather than material. They embody a much stronger durability than in the case of simple fashions or trends… they become part of a cultural paradigm.
The signs implied in such a paradigm can be backed up by many means: logo, packaging, merchandising associated, celebrities, but also music industry, TV shows, websites that can promote wider contents to shape with more accuracy the image of a brand. Ads in the cityscape are also an effective way of crafting a cultural image for a brand. To communicate a lifestyle, a compagny have somehow to penetrate the everyday life of the consumer. Of course then, advertisement is a crucial mean, but also sponsorships for instance. This new need for promoting brand came from mass production before becoming part of the whole branding system as an economic necessity, hence its importance in the budget of a compagny.
One interesting example of it is the one of Iron Maiden. Iron Maiden is a well known Heavy Metal band, but the name Iron Maiden and its visual codes has become through the year a cultural icon, a brand that is so iconic that tends now to be disconnected from its root, that is to say the band itself.
Wearing an Iron Maiden shirt carries out cultural symbol and codes. It can be interpreted as a subversive way of dressing, and more and more celebrities tend to wear those shirts. However, the brand has become so cultural that it has been somehow disconnected from the initial source of this icon: indeed wearing an Iron Maiden shirt does not mean necessarily listening to Iron Maiden, but including its iconic value in the making of one own individual identity.
Klein understood very well the importance of the symbolic, or “spiritual” value for a brand to become a myth. In the example of Iron Maiden, we can get as Klein states that brand is about branding a culture, not just a product. The visual codification is therefore crucially important in that sense, with logos as symbols more and more shown through the years. The help of celebrity as well to promote a brand and to raise it at the level of a myth is another illustration of the Iron Maiden example that has been highlighted by Klein.
It proves very well that corporations has to put on an emphasis on symbol and symbolic value for a brand to grow bigger and eventually become a cultural symbol. It has to be even so cultural that the consumers would be able to re-appropriate themselves the brand to make them part of their own identity. Branding and advertising brands is not about material issues but symbolic and semiologics signs.