A Branding Revelation From The Movie “Braveheart”

Posted: March 7, 2011 in Business Tips, Little-Known Revelations On Branding

Braveheart movie poster

I’ve been thinking a lot about brands and branding recently.  And it has caused me to gain a whole new and deeper understanding of them.

I want to share these little-known brand discoveries that I’ve made with you in this post and in a few other upcoming ones.

This post will reveal the first discovery I’ve made about the real power behind a brand.

Many people think that your brand is just a logo you get designed for your company website or letterhead.  They couldn’t be more wrong.

A brand is much more important and more powerful than that!

Let me share with you one revelation I had about what a brand is and what it represents from watching the movie Braveheart.

If you don’t know or remember the story, let me tell you the basic plot, because knowing it will help you grasp the branding revelation I got from this movie.

Basic movie storyline…

In 1280 A.D., after the King of Scotland dies without an heir, King Edward “Longshanks” of England, occupies much of southern Scotland and he declares himself King of Scotland.

His oppressive rule leads to the deaths of William Wallace’s father and brother.

Years later, after Wallace has been raised abroad by his uncle Argyle, he returns to the highlands, determined to live as a farmer and avoid trouble.

All he wants is a peaceful life.

That’s the setting of the movie, but here is the part of the story that led to my branding revelation…

When Wallace returns, he seeks out and woos a woman named Murron that he knew as a kid in the village.  They secretly marry to avoid customs which prevented them from becoming husband and wife.

Everything seems to be going well until something horrible happens...

An English soldier attempts to rape Murron until Wallace rescues her and fights off other soldiers while she escapes.  But the moment of relief doesn’t last.  In fact,things suddenly take a turn for the worst.

You see, Wallace manages to get away, but Murron is captured and executed by the local magistrate.

Wallace gets his revenge on the magistrate by killing him and his actions inspire the local villagers to rebel against the English and capture the town.

Wallace then leads an ever-growing army of rebels to successive victories, eventually annihilating the English Northern Army and capturing the town of York.

Alright let’s stop there.  So you’re probably wondering… Where did I learn something about branding in this movie?

It’s in a subtle detail you might not remember or have noticed.
Do you remember this seemingly insignificant moment?

Wallace ends up with Murron’s handkerchief. At first, all it was was a simple handkerchief that reminds him of his love for her.  But as the movie progresses it becomes MORE than just another handkerchief.

It transforms into some bigger and greater and more meaningful.

In the final scenes, as Wallace leads his men into battle, he holds up the handkerchief and everyone watching the film is FILLED with emotion.


Because they know that this handkerchief is no longer just another handkerchief. It has become a symbol for freedom and all that Wallace and his men are fighting for.

That is what a brand is!  It is a meaningful representation of something else.  It should inspire feelings and emotion.  It should even convey attitude.  It might even remind you of an experience.

Want another non-traditional example of a brand?
The American Flag.  When people see it, they don’t just see a piece of cloth with stars and stripes.  It stands for all that America has been and is.  It stands for all the promises of this country.

It’s a symbol that many have fought for and some fight against.

Another more traditional example would be Coca-Cola.  When you see that symbol it doesn’t just stand for a company or a product.  It represents all the feelings, attitudes and experiences that the Coca-Cola company has associated with it’s product.

It has a deeper meaning than “this is just another can of bubbly, sugary water.”

Do you understand now?

You and I need so much more than a logo.  Logos are a dime a dozen (almost literally nowadays).  Instead we desperately need a brand.  A brand is priceless.  A brand is powerful.

I will share with you some more ideas on branding and why businesses that want to be successful need to move beyond what I call “generic-ism“.

Coming Soon:
My next post will reveal some more branding lessons I learned while watching Warner Bros cartoons.  (Hey, what do you expect?  I’m a father of 3 young sons!)

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