Lingering in perplexity

 

 

In his book Why Philosophy, Xavier Rubert de Ventós says that philosophizing requires to be naïve enough or courageous enough to realize that we don’t see things clearly.

Let’s recognize that doing philosophy is not in fashion and less so is the “philosophic attitude” that “risks lingering in perplexity”, “putting the official administrators in doubt about the truth”, “learning to get the benefit of the doubt”, according to the words of Xavier Rubert de Ventós.

I’ve been giving it a lot of thought to this subject during the last few days. Is branding really comprised of philosophy or ideology? What can we learn from these perplexed and disconcerted thinkers who are desperately in search of the truth? What do we as consultants have to do with the philosophers? Is what we do related to philosophical thinking?

Well, it seems like it.

I just re-read a very different book, The Philosophy of Branding: Great Philosophers Think Brands that at the time I thought was surprising. Its author, a pastor of a church in England and Director of the Marketing Academy of Unilever, Thom Braun, writes and reflects about his broad experience in the development of consumer goods brands.

The thesis of the book is that all of today’s big branding ideas were already formulated by the great thinkers of our western culture.

He gives us a tour of history from Heraclitus to Popper and imagines, knowing his thoughts, what each one of these great philosophers would have said about our subject, branding.

Of course, he also apologizes for the simplification of the ideas and their use in this context.

With a very pragmatic and nonacademic perspective, Thom Braun, summarizes the top tips of each one of the authors whom he references. This way, we learn that:

Heraclitus was the first to talk about the incessant change and how brands should be managed under this pressure of constant flow.

Socrates literally used to question everything and this is how we manage to attain a deep level of understanding in branding.

Plato differentiated two types of character: the superficial, permanently changing in order to be up-to-date, and the profound, with immutable values that are behind the superficial characteristics of the brand.

Aristotle searched for the functional reasons behind purchases: we should never loose sight of the purpose of the brand and if there is no clear reason for the consumer to buy the brand he will quickly fall out of love with the brand. (loose interest in the brand)

Descartes taught us not to rest until we find the irreducible certainty that motivates the connection with our audience, which means getting into the heads of our consumers and comprehend their deepest motivations in order to achieve later on, the development of a logical and rational brand.

Spinoza taught us that the innovation and strategic communications should be synchronized because the tangible aspects of the brand and what the consumer thinks of the brand should not be managed separately.

Leibniz taught us to distinguish between what is absolutely true about a brand and what we want people to believe about it.

Locke suggests us that we grasp the brand attributes in every possible way and manage them in tune with the current circumstances.

Hume talks about the limits of reasoning and the superiority of the feelings and emotions of the people so that we do not become enslaved by our own theories about the brand.

Rousseau considers that branding will be powerful when we trust our instincts and hearts, and when we do not underestimate the power of aligning people with great emotional values.

Kant teaches us not to fool ourselves thinking that we can know everything about our consumers, brands and markets; you can only see what you’re prepared to see because the categories you use to perceive the world correspond to the models in your head and therefore the most powerful changes will influence the perceptions about these categories.

Hegel tells us that change is a process that cannot be accelerated by new synthesis or combinations to develop new brands.

Nietzsche teaches us that values are at the core of the brands and that they should be the driving force, that we should dare to create new, probably more risky values instead of packaging the existing values to gain terrain in the super brands.

Wittgenstein tells us not to limit the growth of a brand by exclusively associating it with a meaning but that we should think that the meaning of a brand is the combination of all its uses and applications.

The existentialists advise us not to fall into the trap of processes and systems: Each brand is an individual, proper entity and hence, we should create a sufficient space for it to be expressed through new, impactful and surprising ways.

Popper thinks that certainties do not exist and that in order to progress, it is necessary to be a critic: the key is to see the development of a brand as a continuous process of problem solving.

This has been the selection of the authors. My friend Pedro, a philosophy apprentice gave me many more suggestions.

In any case, reading about the history of philosophy as a key to understanding branding fascinates me. I would like to encourage you to give me your opinions on the subject.  

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