Friday, 18 October 2013

A gloriously broad beacon

I've learned a couple of new words today, thanks to a thought-provoking article in Contagious, by John V Willshire of Smithery.

If you work in marketing, you spend countless hours discussing two things:
1. What is a brand, anyway?
2. What does our brand stand for?

John V Willshire quotes Richard Sennett's Together in defining two types of conversation - the Dialectic, which is all about aligning people around a mutually agreed resolution, a consensus if you like, to move forward from there - and the Dialogic, which is about exchanging views without forcing them together, and moving forward choosing the view or idea that seems best in the circumstances.

Brand Management has traditionally been about the dialectic - reduction, compression, or distillation of a brand's components and essence into some kind of rigid model - a key, an onion, a pyramid or even a one-word equity.

But, questions the author, is this the best way in the internet age? Is this kind of thinking redundant? Should we not be happy to live with the indefinability of a "gloriously broad brand"?

It's worth pondering. But my feeling is that the world was always complex, internet or no internet, and it will continue to be so. People will always look for lighthouses and beacons for orientation, safety, ease, reassurance - which is the role of brands.

No-one but the most naive junior junior brand manager seriously thinks that a brand onion is real. The map is not the territory. Maybe we can improve on our cartography but we can't change the territory, only the way we represent it.

A gloriously broad beacon?

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