Britain’s best known brand?

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A recent study put Google as Britain’s number one brand. Another pointed to Vodafone. However, if you want to know what Britain’s top brand is, you can find a likely answer from teens and tweens all over the world: Harry Potter. That’s right: Harry Potter is a brand, and a very successful one at that.

The Harry Potter books were a phenomenon in themselves, as children and adults all over the UK and even the world lined up to get a dose of literary magic. Harry and his friends were more than characters, but seemingly real people that the public watched grow up. They dealt with normal adolescent angst along with the unique circumstances of child wizards fighting the forces of evil.

Many books have been made into movies, but few with the success of this series. However, this is not the end of this brand. Now, the Harry Potter brand has turned into something greater than the story line, with specially branded toys and games. There are even Harry Potter costumes, clothing, and a line of sweets in rather unappetizing flavours.

What makes up the Harry Potter brand? First, he is a boy thrown into an unfamiliar world. While his circumstances are unique to say the least, as an orphan who suddenly is invited to a school of wizardry, this is a situation that many teens and even adults can identify with. Second, he fights against evil even when the evil is an authority figure. Many people feel that they are up against an unfriendly establishment, so this is a brand that is highly consumer friendly. Last, Harry Potter is gifted at a variety of things. Many people wish they were in his situation. However, he makes enough mistakes and foibles that others can identify with him nonetheless.

Some feel that the branding of literature is a negative move, that it cheapens the books by watering them down into something fit for the generally non-literary public. However, it could be argued that branding a book is like branding healthy foods: if it gets more people involved in this constructive activity, no negative can come of it.

The Harry Potter brand is centred on struggle and triumph. However, the world of magic keeps the story interesting enough that readers can’t wait to turn the page. Excitement and wonder are two key aspects of the Harry Potter brand. Taking the normal and mundane, then turning them into something new and exciting, is the brand promise that keeps Harry Potter front and centre in the literary scene.

There was a time when no one would call a literary character a brand, but that time has passed. Many books are marketed in the same way that breakfast cereal might be. Harry Potter was perhaps the beginning of this trend, but he certainly won’t be the end of it. Other books turned movies, such as the Twilight series, are enjoying the same success. Branding has become a key part of having a best selling book, as important as the cover or even the story itself.