In the world of business, a meaningful brand emerges from careful and hard work. There’s market research, competitive analysis and the overall brand development.
But sometimes a meaningful brand happens organically, especially when the purveyors of that brand completely understand what is different and better about those who embrace it.
I’m talking about Boston Strong.
As the 2014 Boston Marathon starts today, a year after the bombings that shook the city (and the nation as well), the event honors those killed and harmed in last year’s race.
Boston, along with Philadelphia, represents the beginnings of our country. It was where the Boston Massacre occured, triggering the American Revolution. The Boston Tea Party, the Battle of Bunker Hill and Paul Revere’s midnight ride all happened in Boston.
Since then, the city has also been known for its toughness, a specific kind of Irish resilience that suggests making your own way when you are an immigrant despite the obstacles in front of you.
It’s with that backdrop that it came as no surprise to many of us why Boston reacted the way it did after the bombings. “Boston Strong” became the theme, starting with a popular hashtag on Twitter, then imprinted on the famous Green Wall at Fenway Park.
The message of that brand was powerful, a refusal to be beaten down by the tragedy. It was the reason why so many shouted their approval when David Ortiz of the Red Sox said, “This is our f—ing city!” before the baseball game later that afternoon. Even Ortiz, a Dominican-American nicknamed “Big Papi,” understood what the brand of Boston meant.
Today, more than 36,000 runners will race in the marathon, more than 10,000 the usual number, all to demonstrate what Boston Strong means.
Brand affects us very deeply when it’s personal and emotional, and the best brands tap into those deeply held feelings and self identifications.
The citizens of Boston see themselves as strong, which is why they are so loyal to it. Today’s running of the Boston Marathon is proof enough of its power and of how powerful a brand can be. Brand has the power to heal.