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A Brand is a Box of Mystery

Howard Carter’s team had just cleared the rubble from sixteen steps descending into the Saharan sands.  The culmination of his long exploration was at hand.  Above a plaster door was the royal stamp of Tutankhamen.  Carter poked a hole in the door and chipped away at the hole, gradually opening enough space to carefully insert a flickering candle.

Would this be another long-since-robbed tomb?  Would it contain anything at all?

Carter peered into the hole.

“Can you see anything?” asked Carter’s sponsor.

“Yes,” he said, frozen, as countless gold objects shimmered in the dim light of the candle.  “Wonderful things.”

It’s not just the amazing beauty and splendor and wealth of King Tut’s tomb that made and makes it so magical.  It was also the mystery, the suspense, the unknown of Howard Carter’s amazing find that held the world spellbound in his day and our own.

J.J. Abrams, the creator of TV’s Lost, has what he calls a “mystery box.” Full of magic tricks from his youth, J.J. has never opened that box.  But why?  Said J.J., “[The box] represents infinite possibility.  It represents hope; it represents potential… mystery is the catalyst for imagination… maybe there are times where mystery is more important than knowledge.”

In our zeal to tell the story of our brand, sometimes we forget to hold something back.  It is what consumers don’t know that often leads them to wonder and want more.

It is the mystery of Apple’s forthcoming gadget that generates the interest in it.  It is the mystery of “who will win” that brings viewers back to American Idol again and again.  It is the mystery of the Big Mac’s “special sauce” or KFC’s “11 herbs and spices” or Coke’s ultra-secret secret formula that cements fans to these brands.

Is your brand an open book?  Or is there something mysterious, something unspoken, something intriguing, something that needs to be discovered about your brand?

What is the mystery of your “wonderful things”?

Don’t just leave them wanting more.

Leave them knowing there’s more to want.

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