When you have the answers to the Greek’s questions (see chapter 3: The old, bearded Greek) you also have the starting point for the brand’s strategy, tactics and culture. Not one of these three aspects can give a complete picture of the brand, because it doesn’t have one, but together they provide a fairly accurate image. To explain this in a better way and to make it more fun, we can use the assistance of two well-known characters.
The outside can be personified by Mr. Spock from Star Trek. His strengths are his rationality and the fact that he analyses complex processes and breaks them down to their basic elements. He is a cold-hearted reductionist. But he also has two grave shortcomings.
The first is his lack of feelings. Those who lack sentiment can not be empathetic towards others, which means that his life is devoid of meaning and he becomes encompassed within himself and psychotic. The other shortcoming is a consequence of the first; he can’t see complex connections. These always carry with them inherent contradictions and they make him extremely nervous. He can’t relax before he has broken down and compartmentalized everything.
Of course, Mr. Spock is not real, but there are many who would love to be him. This is especially so in the business world, which is to a great extent built on ideals founded hundreds of years ago by Newton’s mechanical physics and Descartes’ dualistic philosophy, and then engulfed further by Skinner’s behaviourist psychology.
The Spock character is built on a gross misunderstanding about the human disposition and how people reach decisions. We are not rational and we cannot cultivate rational decisions, because the mind is not constructed that way. The rational functions in the cerebral cortex and the emotionally based functions in the limbic system are wired together, which is a consequence of the rational and emotional behaviour being basically the same thing – namely a wish.
Either you want something positive to happen, in which case you are emotional. Or you try to prevent anything negative happening, in which case you are defensive – or to use a less careful term, you are rational. The fact is, you are emotional in both cases.
As they are intertwined you can never maintain that you are thinking one hundred percent rationally without your thoughts running the risk of being tarnished by your emotions.
Rational thoughts are in reality feelings motivated by fear, that’s why you tend to take more time before you reach a decision. But this doesn’t mean that you can eradicate your feelings by thought alone. They came first, and they are essential for you to reach any sensible decision at all. Studies have shown that patients with a damaged connecting link between the limbic system and the prefrontal lobe make devastatingly bad decisions, despite the intellectual ability remaining unchanged.
The thing that all the Spock characters must try to understand is that feelings are the greatest force. Everything begins with a feeling. The feeling develops into a thought. The thought materializes into words. And if the words are deeply rooted in a strong feeling, it leads to action.
That’s enough about Spock, now over to the personification of the inside, to Forrest Gump. He is Spock’s antithesis. He is not particularly intelligent, if anything he reminds us of a child. He is easy to make contact with, fun, curious, empathetic, intuitive and immensely creative, as he has extreme difficulty in fixing boundaries. Despite being a wizard at getting things done quickly, it is often in a rash, imprecise and undetermined way. This often gets him into deep water (where he quickly finds a solution). But Gump has one major advantage over Spock.
He actually exists.
Not as a real person but as an emotional personality type. In the book Branding according to Forrest Gump, by Per Robert Öhlin (in Swedish), the depiction of Gump is from Plato’s aspects in order to show that none of the different aspects are completely true, and they need each other to create a reasonably corresponding picture with reality.
Outside: Medium height, weight just under the average, short hair, IQ 75. He is an idiot.
Inside: He is honest and pleasant. He does strange things at times. But he has a heart of gold.
Contextual: Born in the American deep south and raised in a small town at the beginning of the fifties. Constantly lives under the threat of institutionalization. Enlisted to the war in Vietnam where his loyalty, strong ethics and dedication made him into a hero. The very same qualities later contributed to making him rich.
As you see, the result is totally dependent on your choice of perspective. The explanation is that there are no facts. We live in a world where different truths compete with each other, which are totally personal accounts and often the result of a chain of social agreements.
Whatever it is you want to describe, be it a person or a brand, you should pay heed to all three spheres in order to see the whole picture and to gain complete comprehension. As you surely already realize, Camitz Sparkling is deeply rooted in all three spheres. In the industry we usually talk about two of these: The USP and the ESP.
Now let’s talk about ASP.
Read the next chapter on Mine goes to eleven, September 1: “Fuck the USP. Think ASP.”
The lesson from Let’s get gorgeous:
- Chapter 1: The idiot’s guide to marketing (incl. introduction) | Mine Goes To Eleven
- Chapter 2: Not nice. Gorgeous. | The Brand-Man
- Chapter 3: The old, bearded Greek. | Mine Goes To Eleven
- Chapter 4: Spock vs. Gump. | The Brand-Man