Friday, 17 October 2014

Maps and Metaphors

I read a very interesting blog post by Martin Weigel on his Canalside View blog recently, in which he argues for scrapping the "brand as human" metaphor in favour of a new metaphor more applicable to the 21st century - "brand as software."

The argument goes that human personality traits don't really differentiate brands and quotes Guy Murphy: "the democracy of information has allowed consumers to focus on more rational and "real" aspects of the product itself" - the observation here that a string on one-star product reviews can destroy even a strong emotional brand.

It's a thought-provoking article and well-worth reading, as are the comments relating to it.

But maybe I'm not geeky enough, or simply too old, but I didn't feel an overwhelming urge to adopt the "brand as software" metaphor.

A few reasons. First of all, I have never bought this "brand exists just in the consumer's head" stuff. All brands, as far as I am aware, exist in the world as products or services. I can't think of any brand that has no concrete products or services attached to it. And surely getting the product or service right was always the basis. In all the various models and metaphors that I have had the dubious pleasure of using over the years, all of them had some sort of stuff about what the brand is or does, or benefits, or attributes before you got onto all that airy-fairy personality and values stuff.

And, in the end, although metaphors may help marketers to think about brands, we shouldn't be held prisoner to them. And brands and marketers are different. Some brands may suit the software metaphor,  if it simplifies the thought process. Others not. Some marketing people like all those pyramids and onions and keys. Others find them self-indulgent intellectual you-know-what.

The map is not the territory. It's one way of looking at it. You use the right kind of map to suit your purpose.

I wonder if "brand" has ever been used as a metaphor?


Barbara Fisher said...

Hi Sue, I must agree with your ‘All brands, as far as I am aware, exist in the world as products or services’ argument, but I will pop over to the Canalside view blog, just to have a look around. I hope life is treating you well.

Sue Imgrund said...

Hello Barbara, and thanks for your comment. I suppose you could, theoretically, dream up a brand name and a logo, and a personality and then choose a product/service to go with it, but that doesn't seem the normal way of the world!