Skip to main content

It's Better Not To Think

Awhile back Allen Adamson wrote a book called Brand Simple which really lays out neatly why brands are so appealing: They prevent us from having to do the difficult work of thinking. 
In a world where our brains are constantly being pummeled with stimuli, helping us to think a little less reduces our stress level.
The job of a good brand, says Adamson, is to create a mental shortcut. We don't want to think - we reach for our "favorite," automatically. (It's the favorite they've taught you to want.)
Yesterday we went to Ikea. This store is a prime example of mental overstimulation. Every single thing in Ikea looked good. Every single thing was affordably priced. All the individual things. All the combinations. All the variations. The mirrors, the storage bins, the fake plants, the Audrey Hepburn posters, all of it, all of it, all of it, all of it.
I grabbed two of those yellow bags and followed the crowds, gulping up the excitement.
Not less than fifteen minutes later I was slumped over in a chair. One of us wanted the $7.99 folding chairs, one of us wanted the $14.99 chairs, and all of us were calling each other names in exhaustion and irritation. 
We are totally overstimulated. We need a break. (Another good book on the subject: Simple by Alan Siegel and Irene Etzkorn.)
There is not room here to start complaining about every single example of how overcomplicating is ruining our lives. But I could throw in the tax code, children's education, the necessity to have 5,000 certifications to apply for just about any job, and more.
Suffice it to say that our brains are craving some simplicity. Remember when you were younger and you just sat there and watched TV all day on Sunday? 
What has happened to that?
 A disturbing side effect of branding, which is totally to be expected, is that we have now come to demand not only the brands we want, but also the simplicity of thinking they offer in such a seemingly easy way.
If we can't have it, grasp it, or deal with it in five seconds - we are over and out.
Unfortunately, the world we actually live in has grown so much more hyper specialized and complex that this kind of approach is maladaptive. We need to think a lot more deeply and critically, just about fewer and more relevant things.
Take for example the 2016 election in the United States. I understand that we have lots of opinions, very strong, on all sides. It is important not just to have a view of course, but to extend respect to those who wildly, wildly, wildly hate what you have to say and hope you never say it again. 
That's the very definition of free speech in a democracy, right? The ability to say your piece and be done with it.
But in this election season, we are seeing the impact of no-thinking thinking everywhere. Without making reference to one candidate or the other, I have lost count of the number of completely senseless headlines, the clickbait titles, the escalated rhetoric and obvious agenda-laden op-eds, all of it designed to market a very simple and global point of view to the average voter.
On top of this we have the normal and abnormal campaign stops and protests, designed to make a statement for YouTube.
It's all very frightening to me because marketing T-shirts is one thing. Marketing life-altering policies to hundreds of millions of people at a time is quite another.
What if we decided that for just a few months, this election deserves our full attention?
What if we actually took some time and immersed ourselves in the issues we care about, serious issues, and tracked how they've been handled over time? How we think they should be handled tomorrow?
What if all of us got off the sidelines or our simple soapboxes and really engaged with one another in pursuit of a really simple thing - that thing being The Truth. 
There is a Truth that is tangibly and scientifically valid. I don't know why they wished that away in graduate school.
All of us have to live together on this planet but some of us have more influence on the conditions of such coexistence than others. 
It's time to stop playing baby games and throwing shade and labels and start to really talk to each other as adults. 
I keep waiting for the adults in the room to jump in.
______

Popular posts from this blog

What is the difference between "brand positioning," "brand mantra," and "brand tagline?"

Brand positioning statement: This is a 1–2 sentence description of what makes the brand different from its competitors (or different in its space), and compelling. Typically the positioning combines elements of the conceptual (e.g., “innovative design,” something that would be in your imagination) with the literal and physical (e.g., “the outside of the car is made of the thinnest, strongest metal on earth”). The audience for this statement is internal. It’s intended to get everybody on the same page before going out with any communication products.Brand mantra: This is a very short phrase that is used predominantly by people inside the organization, but also by those outside it, in order to understand the “essence” or the “soul” of the brand and to sell it to employees. An example would be Google’s “Don’t be evil.” You wouldn’t really see it in an ad, but you might see it mentioned or discussed in an article about the company intended to represent it to investors, influencers, etc.Br…

Nitro Cold Brew and the Oncoming Crash of Starbucks

A long time ago (January 7, 2008), the Wall Street Journal ran an article about McDonald's competing against Starbucks.
At the time the issue was that the former planned to pit its own deluxe coffees head to head with the latter.
At the time I wrote that while Starbucks could be confident in its brand-loyal consumers, the company, my personal favorite brand of all time,  "...needs to see this as a major warning signal. As I have said before, it is time to reinvent the brand — now.  "Starbucks should consider killing its own brand and resurrecting it as something even better — the ultimate, uncopyable 'third space' that is suited for the way we live now.  "There is no growth left for Starbucks as it stands anymore — it has saturated the market. It is time to do something daring, different, and better — astounding and delighting the millions (billions?) of dedicated Starbucks fans out there who are rooting for the brand to survive and succeed." Today as …

What is the difference between brand equity and brand parity?

Brand equity is a financial calculation. It is the difference between a commodity product or service and a branded one. For example if you sell a plain orange for $.50 but a Sunkist orange for $.75 and the Sunkist orange has brand equity you can calculate it at $.25 per orange.

Brand parity exists when two different brands have a relatively equal value. The reason we call it "parity" is that the basis of their value may be different. For example, one brand may be seen as higher in quality, while the other is perceived as fashionable.

________________
All opinions my own. Originally posted to Quora. Public domain photo by hbieser via Pixabay.