The idiot’s guide to marketing, chapter 2

There is a lot of talk about brands these days. But many seem to have a muddled view of what they really are.

There are those who still talk about brands as if they were the actual product. Many believe that it’s all about a name and a symbol. Others believe that it is something that can be dissected, analysed, measured and controlled, something that can be captured on paper and stored in a binder. Even others have the conviction that a brand is just a gut feeling or an idea in the mind of the consumer.

A brand is basically a promise. It has always been so: a promise of authenticity, quality and continuity. The brands of today have even developed into a relationship, and relationships, wherever in the world they might form, are built on reciprocal altruism for mutual benefit.

Look upon the brand as a contract between the company and the consumer. The company strives for profit, the consumer chases self-improvement. The liaison between the both of them is the brand.

Who am I?
Who are you?
And what do we have in common?

In this encounter it is more often than not the company that has the most to prove to fulfil its part of the bargain. It must show considerable emotional qualities: become more trustworthy, sensitive, honest, intimate, responsible, innovative, enigmatic and entertaining. In short, more human.

The consumer returns the favour with attentiveness and loyalty.

The recipe for success consists of equal parts of both right and wrong. Or to express it in a more correct way, equal parts experience and naïve gambles. This means that when an innovation comes to life it already consists to a certain something that is by definition wrong. “Every act of creation,” said Picasso, “is first an act of destruction”.

When an idea becomes accepted it in turn becomes a part of the new norm, which, in order to develop, must be challenged by some new defect.

The antithesis of this is moderation.

Moderation demands correctness, security and continuity. Most people in the business world want moderation. They don’t want to stand out from the crowd and risk falling foul to criticism.

Moderation is stagnation in a world that is constantly moving forward. Moderation is a black hole, whose attraction of gravity absorbs everything that is not exceptional.

Peter, Mattias and the crew behind Camitz Sparkling revolt against moderation. They despise moderation. In order to break into the vodka industry they have to have all qualities but moderation. They must establish their product as the most attractive, enjoyable and interesting – to be able to attract the most attractive, enjoyable and interesting consumers.

Those who refuse to follow the rules of moderation are brought face to face with more contradictory truths than those that we usually take for granted. And that’s why we are about to make the acquaintance of an old, bearded Greek, a callous spaceman and a complete idiot.

Read the next chapter on Mine goes to eleven, August 27: “The old, bearded Greek.”

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