CALL ME ‘BRANDISHING’
Amer Jaleel, Group CCO & Chairman, MullenLowe Lintas Group makes a case for rebranding what brands do nowadays
Meaning: to wave or flourish (a weapon) in a triumphant, threatening, or ostentatious way
Synonym: wave, raise, display, shake, swing, exhibit, flourish, wield, flaunt
When the work of brands started in earnest (let’s not call it ‘advertising’ already,) it began on the postulate that the human brain is saturated with information. That was many ages ago. To declutter that supposed mass of clutter we invented the ‘proposition’. This very thing, the sharp instrument of the proposition is what we used to plunge into the mind and embed it there; hoping that whenever it comes to decision-making on the brand, the sharpest of those swords will be the most memorable, therefore the most valuable.
Cut to today, terabytes and terabytes of data has flown under the bridge of that prehistory. And we are doing what? We are putting out such a haze and maze, a veritable cotton-wool of messages on our brands. But, wait-a-minute, it does seem to be working, no?
Today it feels like that same instrument is being employed, but it’s being put to a completely different use. I’ll tell you why the sword analogy works in a bit, but before that allow me to make a logic-flow out of some observations. I don’t at any point profess to be completely sure of any of the below, you’re welcome to debunk.
People are brands
People no longer consider it enough to do things, they need to let others know they’re doing things. (This ‘doing’ and ‘telling’ are becoming indistinguishable.) And brands are following, that much is true. But it follows from there that since people are not one-dimensional, perhaps brands are also getting easy with the idea of exhibiting different sides.
What this means to the different brand models that marketers and advertisers follow, remains to be seen. But, it seems, the rules will be relaxed. Maybe 3D audience-modelling will better capture the many sides, hues and textures of our brands, and the 2D .ppt will need to evolve too.
People behave differently with different people, so should brands? We have a boy-side, a girl-side, a school-side, a recess-side, an office-side, a home-side, an ex-flame side, a reunion side, public side and private side. We are intuitively forming, moulding, melting, rebirthing, all the time! And if brands are required to do this in the near future, I can see discussing a much happier revenue model with clients.
Pulsating versus staying alive
A constant, competitive throb seems to dictate where brands are going. It’s nothing to do with the business objectives of the brand-owner. Not tied traditionally to the annual sales forecast anymore, it’s a need that the brand has: to vie for a moment, an occasion, an opportunity, any opening in the chock-a-block of day of their audiences. None of this is around the corner, it is here! And going by the examples of how quickly we adapt to tech and tech-related changes, it won’t be surprising if it sounds like the end of the media-plan as we know it. Instead, it sounds more like a ‘media-pounce’ to me.
Subtlety and the death of selling
If brands go the people way, they will have to behave like people do. And people hate loud-mouths and braggarts. Yes, yes, I know we of the fraternity know this very well and yes, we are practising this in the ways we can, given the limitations. However, I think what I could be seeing is more than that.
“It cannot be an ad”. An ad sells. It follows from there that however slant the reference to the brand in the ‘ad’, it will stink of an ad. Out goes the strategy, because strategy will peep. Out goes product demo, because that shows and how. Out goes the logo?
CI/CX: A new suffix for
Ads are ads. There’s a surface and on it is a message by a brand, static or moving, audio or video, interactive or packaging, flashmob or mobile, or anything else. It’s always been an ad. There has always been a role for a strategy or an idea or a thought. Maybe these days there isn’t that unifying one platform anymore. They say it’s a new world and maybe there’s need for a new way to look at all of advertising. But it may need a new definition, new phraseology. Everything a brand does falls under consumer interface or consumer experience, and if we agree, it could be a nice new suffix and amalgamator of all that we do.
If all a brand does is this metaphorical waving of the sword and the resultant swirls, swishes and flashes of light are all that catches the consumer eye, to build a fluid, amorphous picture of a brand, then is it not apt to call it ‘brandishing’?
This article was first published in ETBrandEquity.