10 Apr

Perfecting your brand

I’ve posted about this before, but I have a slight obsession with the old Pink Panther films, starring Peter Sellers. It’s no exaggeration to say that I’ve seen each of the films at least 20 times.

Taking centre stage, is Seller’s character, Inspector Clouseau; the idiotic, accident-prone, bumbling, French detective.
If you watch the earlier films (The Pink Panther and A Shot in the Dark), you’ll see that Seller’s is just shaping Clouseau’s character, but is a little too smooth – he hasn’t got the mannerisms quite right yet. Clouseau is still an idiot in these films, but too polished.
However, in the later films, Sellers perfects the character.

This is demonstrated in one of my favourite clips, below, from The Pink Panther Strikes Again (1976), where Clouseau interrogates the staff at a stately home, after a murder:

Yes, there’s the obvious humour in the physical comedy, the silly questions, the awful accent, but that’s not what shows me that Sellers had perfected Clouseau – it’s things like;

1:51 – 1:53 – Clouseau looking around the room, baffled as to where that voice is coming from.

2:19 – getting the beekeeper’s name wrong, twice, without even noticing: complete poker face.

2:43 – the way he watches the bee.

3:37 – his sudden realisation that his hand is burning, with complete calmness followed by panic.

Peter Sellers – at this point – had perfected Clouseau as a brand, which allowed the Pink Panther films to do incredibly well upon release.

To end up with a strong, recognisable brand, that’s what it takes – moulding it, shaping it, trial and error, ironing out any little imperfections, until every little detail (your USP, how staff speak on the phone, the tone of your emails) is just right.

When everything comes together, you end up with a complete brand, like Clouseau… but minus the idiocy.

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