Branding: The LOST Art

Okay, so I was only about 50 percent correct with my predictions about the LOST finale, but I was 100 percent correct about it being an extraordinary evening in front of the tube.

Everything about LOST is precisely what makes a successful brand.
It is engaging to its target audiences as well as its fringe audiences.  It is entertaining, exciting, frustrating, challenging and more.  It understands what the viewer wants and it delivers.
But not just the television show itself, which is usually excellent and occasionally sucks.  It is everything else that goes with the show.  The creators and producers of the show routinely acknowledge the audience and actually listen to what they are saying.  If and when appropriate, they will even adjust the product to meet the desires/demands of the consuming public.
Consider Ben Linus.  This rapscallion was initially scheduled to appear in  three episodes.  But the public was taken by the character and he is now a staple (some would argue the glue that binds) of LOST.  On the other hand, other less adored characters have been quickly disposed of (though nothing stays buried on the island).
Likewise, the actors who make up this everchanging cast are considerate and reflective about their audience.  They are in on the jokes, yet serious about the storylines.  They appear routinely throughout the year on talk shows and web casts to exchange their own views, frustrations and hopes for the island inhabitants.
Then there are the dozens if not hundreds of web sites, blogs and message boards/forums dedicated to the show.  Here, fans and fanatics alike exchange ideas, likes and dislikes about this product.  And as you might expect with such a well-orchestrated brand, the show’s producers, writers and stars are willing to participate in the discussions.
There are also the videos on YouTube, the episodes available for free on, the articles in print and online media, the merchandise (including action figures) available in a variety of locations, LOST the video game, as well as LOST the board game.
This past season, out of consideration for its established and new fans, the show even began airing weekly reruns with special subtitles that clued in the somewhat clueless about the many secrets and mysteries they may have overlooked or misunderstood.
And, of course, there is the show itself.  As one who has been there since season 1 – episode 1, I can tell you truthfully that there have been ups and downs.  This is not a perfect product.  But then, it does not pretend to be.  What it does do, however, is strive to be the best it can be for all its customers.  Time and time again it delivers with knock out blows.  And even on its bad days it manages to deliver a few well-placed  jabs.
LOST is what every brand should aspire to be:  enticing, endearing, engaging and enduring.
In the immortal words of Ben Linus (speaking to John Locke):  “Picture a  box. You know something about boxes, don’t you John?  Now picture a box that you can wish anything into. What would you say to that?”
I would say: Give me more LOST.

Jim Sweeney


Jim is a veteran of the agency industry and the founder of Sweeney. He is uncommonly passionate about the idea of creating and implementing insanely great marketing campaigns that achieve insanely great results. He pioneered the full-service, full-circle agency model and continues to forge new ideas in an ever-changing industry. And he is accessible to everyone about anything, seemingly all the time, serving as a mentor to all agency personnel and clients.