IN BONDAGE TO THE BRAND

An early 20th century abstract artist is quoted as saying, “One eye sees, the other eye feels.” Now, while there may be differences of opinion as to how we determine which should be the “dominant eye”, either choice would seem to leave us blind concerning rational thought.

The painter may have been prophetic as well as artistic. The question that best embodies the Spirit of our Age is not, “What do you think about that”, but rather, “How do you feel about that?” To some it may seem as though the questions are the same.  They are not. Feelings have become the new foundational stone for everything from personal decisions to national politics. It might serve us well to look at a curious influence that helps shape those feelings. That of the Brand.

BRAND OVER TASTE BUDS

In his book, “Storybranding”, Jim Signorelli defines a brand as basically “a designation that the sellers of a given product use to distinguish the product they sell from others”. Sounds like basic marketing, right?

But he also deals with what he calls Associative Meanings, which are the connotations in the mind of the buyer about that brand. They are subjective thoughts and feelings and can produce strong loyalties to the brand. And therein lies the temptation. Loyalty to brands can be so strong that they can override obvious, tested, reasoned evidence, contrary to the story of the Brand. Facts yield to feelings, perception overrides experiential proof.

Matthew Yglesias, in an article for Slate, tells the story of how one of the world’s most established companies conquered its competition with loyalty to Brand rather than product. In the 1970’s Pepsi put together a highly successful ad campaign called, “The Pepsi Challenge”. In the double-blind taste test customers donned blindfolds, took sips, and were asked just one question, “Which cola tastes better?” The majority chose Pepsi. The campaign was so successful that Pepsi began selling more product in supermarkets and Coke was forced into one of the greatest blunders in marketing. They changed their old formula to taste more like Pepsi.

The response from the public was rapid and massive. They wanted the 100-year-old Coke formula back. (They did bring it back along with a return to promoting the brand, featuring friendship, family, and fuzzy bears). Call it loyalty, nostalgia, or culture, whatever the case, it was, as one writer from “Scientific American” called it, the “Pepsi Paradox”. People liked the taste of Pepsi better, but Brand, it seems, had won over taste buds.

BRAND OVER BELIEFS

Choosing sodas is one thing, making decisions for our own self-interest is more serious. There is nothing more axiomatic than the truth that people will naturally do that which benefits them or their family. Yet it seems that Brand has a malevolent power in affecting that as well.

In his book, “Liberalism”, former NFL player and entrepreneur, Burgess Owens examines something that is the political equivalent to the Pepsi Paradox; why do so many people vote against their own self-interest? He deals with the paradox in the Black community but it is true for a larger audience.

The ideology of Liberalism demands the suspension of all individual core principles.It is the engaged individual who is left to justify, as a Capitalist, his collusion with avowed Socialists, Communists, and Marxists.
As a practicing Christian, Jew, or Muslim, he colludes with rabid anti-God atheists.
As a passionate defender of Pro-Life, he colludes with passionate no-limits abortionists.
As a believer in School Choice for poor black children he must justify his collusion with Anti-Choice/Pro labor union advocates.

In a show of solidarity and loyalty to the ideology of Liberalism, the Black community predictably and collectively votes for the same candidate and party as do those who are adamantly opposed to their most treasured values.

It is the blind loyalty to the Brand that is the problem. The phenomenon is observed in religious circles as well. Good people who continue to attend, support, and even defend churches and denominations that have long since left the “treasured values” of those they minister to.

Ignore our own experiences, vote against our own best interest, and hang on to an organization that no longer speaks for our values. Why do we do such things?
Perhaps it can be explained in part by an instance related in Signorelli’s book. His two grandkids were watching a McDonald’s commercial on TV and the three-year old said to the five-year old, “Why do they say they love to make you smile? They don’t make me smile.”  And the five-year old replied, “Because it’s advertising, stupid.”

 

 

 

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One Response to IN BONDAGE TO THE BRAND

  1. rmjones58 says:

    Tremendous insight and critical especially in our day. Living, authentic, genuine faith touches the emotions but it is not emotion based. It is grounded in God’s Word written and incarnate. Faith that is feelings based will rise and fall with our emotions, but faith that is fact-based will tenaciously hold. I like the way C S Lewis puts it: “Faith is holding on to God in spite of changing moods!” Thanks for writing. More please!

    Like

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