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Business Culture

What’s your brand’s ‘leitmotiv?’

Burberry’s Britishness. Apple’s sleekness. Red Bull’s energy and fearlessness. Prada’s edginess and bold product design.

The leitmotiv, as the German composer Richard Wagner called it, is the signature concept of your brand that makes it impossible to ignore. 

For Wagner, music was the key ingredient to his theatrical performances. 

Shakespeare leveraged the creative power of uncertainty to illustrate the leitmotiv of his craft. 

Leitmotiv makes the end-product poignant and memorable. It underlies the emotional experience we all encounter at various touchpoints: in a book, at the store, or online. 

As the philosopher Alan Watts so wisely noted, “We say you play the piano, you don’t work the piano.”

Once the artist or company establishes its leitmotiv, it can shy away from revealing everything. The theme becomes intuited, and it treads lightly, an extension of the brand without always wearing it on the sleeve.