Wikipedia defines “brand” as:
… Initially, branding was adopted to differentiate one person’s cattle from another’s by means of a distinctive symbol burned into the animal’s skin with a hot iron stamp, and was subsequently used in business, marketing and advertising…. A brand is the most valuable fixed asset of a Corporation.
In business in the 21st century, more and more importance is being given to the value of a brand and to what it represents. A conspicuous example is Coca Cola, whose brand is considered one of the leading in the world and has been valued at some $70 billion.
In recent years, the value of “the Peace Brand” has declined dramatically. Two recent examples illustrate this clearly:
- In the 2013 Israeli General Elections, the word “peace” was notable by its absence. Even parties which do not ignore the need for peace with our neighbors and did not hide the topic in the smallest plank in their platform, used code terms such as “things could be better” or “advancing the diplomatic process.” I read the terms of establishment of HaTnua, the new political party led by Tzipi Livni, who jumped into the political fray at the last minute announcing that she is the only one who is willing and able to advance negotiations with our neighbors. Even there (http://www.hatnua.org.il/#!principle/ca4p) the word Peace appeared only once, and that in a very noncommittal formulation.
- In a telephone conversation with a friend I shall call “Doron” I was saddened to note once again the reduced value of the Peace brand. About a decade ago, Doron established an organization I shall call “The Path of Peace,” which works to advance peace and harmony through various creative ways. This organization is the only one of its kind in the world, and the word Peace has appeared proudly in the organization’s name for a decade. “I think that maybe the time has come to change the name of the organization and take out Peace. After all, we do a lot of work in other fields too, like helping youth at risk, empowering women, improving the world, etc.” “Oy vey,” I thought to myself, “even peace organizations are fed up with the word Peace.”
A number of years ago I took part in a brainstorming session about the Peace Brand. We tried to define Peace, how it can be felt, smelled, tasted. We wondered if the essence of peace was the opposite of war. We thought about other terms that might be defined that would better advance the values of peace. We tried to define ways to change peace to a brand that was accessible, desirable, and valued – to make it a leading brand. We fantasized about creating a “peace seal” similar to the recycling seal, or the Seal of Approval of the FDA or of a Standards Authority. These fascinating conversations were cut short and did not lead to any practical results, but for a long time I have had the feeling that we were missing something. Hiding behind the Peace Brand is something valuable waiting to be uncovered and used, the way the Soda Stream company rebranded soda water from the old-fashioned Sypholux soda maker into a product that is trendy, young, exciting.
For Purim this year my youngest daughter dresses up as Pippi Longstocking, the mischievous and wild Swedish girl created by Astrid Lindgren. This impudent child with straw-like carrot-red hair, who wears outrageous clothing, whose mother died and whose father disappeared, has, despite her less-than-brilliant beginnings, become over the years a childhood hero around the world, a role model attractive enough for my princess-loving daughter to want to dress up as her at Purim.
Popeye the Sailor Man changed the image of spinach, the Ninja Turtles changed the image of those slow-moving reptiles, and high-tech and lucrative exits changed the image of geeks.
So if it is possible to brand Pippi as a children’s hero, spinach as a food children will eat, and a spectacled geek into someone Bar Refaeli will kiss in front of the world – surely it must be possible to create a similar brand makeover for Peace?!
Sagi Melamed lives with his family in the community of Hoshaya in the Galilee. He serves as Vice President of External Affairs at the Max Stern Yezreel Valley College, and as Chief Instructor (4th Dan) of the Hoshaya Karate Club. Sagi received his Masters degree from Harvard University in Middle Eastern Studies with a specialty in Conflict Resolution. His first book, “Benartzi” (“Son of My Land”), was published in 2012 by Achiasaf Publishing. He can be contacted at: email@example.com.