Monday, July 18, 2005

The Dialectic of Brand

I came across this post by John Hagel in which he outlines what he sees as the progression of successive constraints that have determined the history of the Brand:

- quality
- shelf space
- customer attention

Hagel concludes that Customer-centric brands will tend to dominate from now on because of their promise "that if you give them their attention, they will give you a better return on your attention than anyone else"

This strictly linear model requires segment-specific brands to be nothing other than transitional phenomena. Yet I could name several instances where producers have allowed markets to disaggregate only to slowly re-impose segment marketing on them. In some cases customer-centricity has itself been the transitional form.

There's obviously a deep-seated need in the Western pysche to construct pathways to meaning made up of discreet and conclusive steps - and to fervently declare the death of the past at almost every milestone. ("The aristocracy of the brand is dead. Long live the meritocracy of product": James Surowiecki, author of The Wisdom of Crowds. )

"Solvitur ambulando" (It is solved by walking) St Augustine is supposed to have said, referring to the great labyrinth which the straight line path of Christianity proposed to lead us out of. Me, I'm happier inside the labyrinth. The moment you leave it you surrender your best chance of reaching a profound understanding of things.

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