Branding Lessons from the French Revolution

The Goal of Branding

The goal of branding is to define what you are. A brand is put in place to project messaging of your company’s identity, mission, and goals through the use of symbol, design and name. When people think of your brand, what associations? What feelings? What emotions do you want flooding their minds? You want to build a positive belief and identity in your brand. You should have your identity written and defined in the most detailed manner to avoid any occurrence of straying from it. What is the symbol for your logo that will tie into that brand identity to inspire instant recognition? The brand should maintain consistent progress towards that ideal reached identity. The French Revolution is a case where their brand was lost and resulted in massacre. A defined brand is a way to progress towards positive recognition. 


The French thought themselves to be undeniably progressive upheaving all their old ideas and traditions to take on new Enlighted ones. The French misunderstood progress. We cannot talk of progress until we know what we want to progress towards. Progress can only be measured in relation to its desired goal. The misconception with progress is perfectly articulated by G.K Chesterton, “Progress should mean that we are always changing the world to fit the vision, instead we are always changing the vision.” We should always change the company environment towards the vision of the brand not upheaving the brand. The most progressive company is the one that recognizes when they took a wrong turn from the vision and turns around the quickest. 

A Branding Lesson: Adapted from the French Revolution 

A revolution was brewing in France and started in 1789. There was a vision of more freedom and equality for the people. A beautiful vision that was led by a man named Maximillian Robespierre who was a major spokesperson of the National Assembly. The vision began being distorted resulting in an aggressive call for bloodshed. This period goes down in history as the Reign of Terror. The original call was noble, but then the vision shifted to one of revenge and a complete structural upheaval of France’s core. Political and other traditional institutions were uprooted and complete reestablishment was pushed to the front. Edmund Burke reflected on the destruction of France with the analogy of a dilapidated castle, “In some parts the walls and in all the foundations possessed a noble and venerable castle. You might have repaired those walls and built on those foundations.” You can’t build a house on sand as tree can’t stand without its grounding roots. The lack foundation and detail for the initial vision allowed for chaos to ensue and in the disarray the vision was skewed. Robespierre ended up killing the very people he promised a republic and everything reverted to political dictatorship under the order of the day: terror. The French encountered an identity loss with progress put on the backburner.


A company will not be faced with a massacre but danger of brand identity is at stake potentially bringing about the dilapidation of a company. Create a detailed outline mission, goal, and identity reflected in the heart and soul of the company. The logo and every other outreaching feature representing the company should reflect this brand. If a brand is already established, the defining features of the brand should progress towards vision. These features should continue to consistently grow in emphasis, definition, and sharpen towards the company’s call. The upheaval of company tradition and what is established could call upon destruction such as the French Revolution on your doorstep. 

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