What Sam Spade has to say about branding

In my home we are on a years long project to work our way through the high points of movies since the advent of the Talkies.  Getting anyone here to watch a black & white movie is challenge enough, so I’ve given up hope of showing the older silent greats.

Recently we watched The Maltese Falcon.  If you haven’t seen it, you must.

Here’s the key thing to watch for in the movie — the metaphor.  

Why?  Because at the heart of every great brand is a strong metaphor.The metaphor takes on layer after layer of meaning over time.  By using the metaphor in different contexts, it can have great power.

So back to the film noir classic, The Maltese Falcon.  Our anti-hero is Sam Spade, archetype of the hard-drinking, womanizing, private-eye.  The action begins when Spade’s partner is bumped off.  As Sam Spade sets off to find the person who killed his business partner, the black bird takes on layer upon layer of meaning.  What is that beautiful black bird?  It is the endless quest for the Holy Grail.  It is the greed that twists humanity.  It is a metaphor, symbolic language.  

It is a great example of how a metaphor can have great power over people.  And not just the characters in the movie.  Think about all of the people who have been emotionally hooked by this movie.  How Sam Spade and that beautiful bird have entered our sphere of personal stories.

So what does Spade have to say about branding?

It is, in the words of Sam Spade, “The stuff dreams are made of.”

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