To never confront the possibility of getting lost is to live in a state of perpetual dislocation. If you never have to worry about not knowing where you are, then you never have to know where you are.”
Nicholas Carr, ‘Welcome to Nowheresville‘
(To all those convinced of their own convictions, who breathe in humbug and breathe out dogma, who are unable to commit themselves to one moment of self-awareness, and who’d rather trade discovery for stability – that one’s for you)
If buyers of a brand do not think their brand is different or unique (Ehrenberg)…
And if what matters is the creation of ‘mental presence’ (Moran)…
Or ‘memory structures’ (Sharp)….
And if we define this as “The degree to which a given brand comes to consumers’ minds in the context of a particular purchase occasion or consumption occasion.” (Moran)…
Or as “The probability that a brand will be recalled early in a consumer’s consideration set, under a variety of situations and via a variety of stimuli, to the exclusion of competing brands” (Vieceli and Shaw)…
And if this is dependent on “The quantity (how many) and the quality (how fresh and relevant) of the network of brand information in memory, or the brand’s ‘share of mind’” (Romanuik and Sharp)…
And if the brain is not some rigid filing system in which memories reside as fully formed recordings but is something altogether more dynamic and malleable…
And if our brain’s networks of nerve cells or ‘neurons’ are not fixed entities, but are dynamic and continuously modified by experience…
And if thinking, learning, and behaviour all actually change the brain’s physical structure and organization, rewiring the brain, creating and eliminating new connections between neurons (Buonomano & Mezernich, Heilman & Nadeau, Schacter, Svoboda)…
Then perhaps is is not unreasonable to regard our task as the creation, expansion, maintenance, and defence of mental real estate.
And so perhaps it was Judith Williamson (Marxist and academic) who put it better than any brand expert, when she wrote that advertising’s purpose was to create
empires of the mind.”
And if she did put it better than anyone, then perhaps we struggle and jostle for memory.
And perhaps we shouldn’t be quite so shy about the language and metaphors of conquest and battle that have become so unfashionable and politically incorrect in adland.
And if we think of our task as some kind of (benign) synaptic imperialism, perhaps we’ll think beyond the mere act of contact or engagement, and think about what mental infrastructure we leave behind, maintain, and expand.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, after all.
Just a thought.
Buonomano D.V, and Mezernich, MM, ‘Cortical plasticity: from synapses to maps’, Annual Review of Neuroscience, 1998;21:149-86.
Andrew Ehrenberg, Neil Barnard, John Scriven, ‘Differentiation or Salience’, Journal of Advertising Research, November/December 1997
Andrew Ehrenberg, ‘Repetitive advertising and the consumer’, Journal of Advertising Research, Vol. 40, No. 6, November/December 2000
Andrew Ehrenberg, ‘What Brand Loyalty Can Tell Us’, Admap, October 2004, Issue 454
Andrew Ehrenberg, Neil Barnard, Rachel Kennedy, Helen Bloom, ‘Brand Advertising As Creative Publicity’, Journal of Advertising Research: Vol. 42, No. 4, July/August 2002
Kenneth M Heilman, MD, Stephen E. Nadeau, MD, and David Q. Beversdorf, MD. “Creative Innovation: Possible Brain Mechanisms” Neurocase (2003)
William Moran, ‘Brand Presence And The Perceptual Frame’, Journal of Advertising Research, October/November 1990
Jenni Romanuik, Byron Sharp, Andrew Ehrenberg, ‘Evidence concerning the importance of perceived brand differentiation, Australasian Marketing Journal 15 92), 2007
Jenni Romanuik, Byron Sharp, ‘Where knowledge of your brand resides: the Pareto share of brand knowledge’, in Report 44 for Corporate Sponsors, 2008, Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science
Jenni Romanuik, Byron Sharp, ‘Using known patterns in image data to determine brand positioning’, international journal of market research, Vol. 42, No.2, 2000
Jenni Romanuik, Andrew Ehrenberg, ‘Do brands lack personality?’ Report 14 for Corporate Members, March 2003
Jenni Romanuik, Byron Sharp, ‘Conceptualizing and measuring brand salience’, Marketing Theory, Volume 4(4), 2004
Daniel Schacter, The Seven Sins of Memory
Daniel Schacter, Searching for Memory
Byron Sharp, How Brands Grow: What Marketers Don’t Know
Julian Viecli, Robin Shaw, ‘A Model of Brand Salience’, in Mark Uncles, ed. Perspectives on Brand Management, 2011
Judith Williamson, Decoding Advertisements: Ideology and Meaning in Advertising
What Keynes wrote in 1936 about economics is just as true of advertising: “So-called practical men, who have never knowingly been exposed to an intellectual influence in their lives, are invariably the slaves of some defunct economist”… It’s only by understanding the historical roots of the assumptions we make about advertising that we can begin to free ourselves from being Keynesian ‘slaves’ to those assumptions. It’s only when we realise that none of these theories, models or metaphors represents absolute truth, but is one of many ‘ways of seeing’… that we can make use of any of them as a source of inspiration rather than be confined by it.
Paul Feldwick, The Anatomy of Humbug: How To Think Differently About Advertising
Of course, there’s really no such thing as “the original”… there isn’t much point looking for originators and copyists… Thanks to the internet we’ve finally got the evidence of all that benign larceny at our fingertips.”
Literature gives us a broad spectrum of human possibilities. It teaches us how to feel other people suffering. When you read a good novel, you forget about the nationality of the character. You forget about his or her religion. You forget about his skin colour or her skin colour. You only understand the human. You understand that this is a human being, the same way we are. And so reading great novels absolutely can remake us as much better human beings.”
Source: interview with Alaa Al Aswany in The Atlantic