3 accidentally Wes Anderson branding rules.

15.08.23 | By Brianna Nixon | opinion

3 accidentally Wes Anderson branding rules.

With the release of Wes Anderson’s Asteroid City, we’re reminded once again of Anderson’s iconic, recognisable (and to some, intolerable) style.

With the release of Wes Anderson’s Asteroid City, we’re reminded once again of Anderson’s iconic, recognisable (and to some, intolerable) style.

But what brand wouldn’t sell their left arm for the same degree of instant recognition and household name status? Even non-film-going types know Wes Anderson. Better yet, they could pick his films from a lineup. 

His films have a niche group of hardcore loyalists and global recognition. Which in the branding world is a golden ratio. So how does he do it? 

By following three simple branding rules. Even if it’s accidental. 

Rule one: be consistent.

How do we know Asteroid City is a Wes Anderson movie after seeing only 0.2 seconds of any given frame? Consistent branding.

This recognition comes from the primary colour palette, ubiquitous symmetry, tableau-style compositions, celebrity ensemble cast and offbeat humour.

These consistent cues make not only recognising but even recreating Anderson’s work easily achievable—as we saw in the TikTok trend of fan edits turning the mundane into a Wes Anderson-inspired short film.

For TikTok users and online content creators more broadly, a recognisable personality or style is important currency. If choosing to imitate the style of a director, who better than one whose work is also immediately recognisable?

Wes Anderson has created a visual language that others can adopt and reenact. Or even stumble across it in real life, as seen on the beloved Instagram page Accidentally Wes Anderson

Brands, here is your lesson: stay consistent. Over decades of doing the same thing. Even when success skyrockets. And despite receiving criticism. It’ll pay off.

Rule two: know your audience.

Wes Anderson is not for everyone. Nor should he be. 

Sure, Anderson is publicly admired on a mass market level. But plenty of people really dislike his films. This is a good thing, as it means his work is divisive. It stirs up feelings. Generates conversation and debate. Creates a vibe of “if you get it, you get it”.

Have you ever heard a brand claim their product is for everyone? Groan. Perhaps anyone could use their product, but brands should care most about talking to the people who are going to care the most. Because they’re the most likely to buy. 

Big name brands like Lacoste, Gucci and Louis Vuitton caught onto the currency of Wes Anderson’s brand aesthetic and have collaborated with him for their collections.

Anderson has also directed adverts for American Express and H&M, demonstrating the commercial appeal of a recognisable brand.

If you get it, you get it.

Rule three: surprise and delight.

You’re possibly still wondering what is the je ne sais quoi in Wes Anderson films that so many people really connect to? 

It’s the emotion. 

Although Wes Anderson emphasises aesthetics over realism, each film manages to tell an affecting, relatable, human story.

Brands benefit greatly from emotionally invested customers. The most engaging advertising pulls heartstrings or gets a chuckle.

Anderson’s films contain relatable themes of grief, loss of innocence, and dysfunctional families. As well as loneliness, emotional repression, and dissatisfaction with life. It’s all sounding very depressing.

Yet while he explores these dark, uncomfortable themes, he also inserts joy. Whether it’s the moment when M. Gustave runs from the police in The Grand Budapest Hotel. Or the iconic line, "I love you but you don't know what you're talking about," in Moonrise Kingdom. Or the entirety of Ben Stiller’s character in The Royal Tenenbaums. Or a certain encounter of the third kind in Asteroid City (no spoilers!).

These surprising moments of delight in the sea of existentialism give the audience greater satisfaction. They also illustrate how Wes Anderson clearly loves cinema. Which makes you love it too. 

Brands can benefit from the same investment by creating content that does more than just push products or services, content that is unexpected and entertaining.

Perhaps, for example, a blog that relates branding to a Wes Anderson film. Wouldn’t that be delightful?

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