The same thing we do every night –  Try and take over the Discourse:          Brands as Memes              By Chris Cox   ...
Declaration of plagiarismI, _________________________, hereby declare that:      I understand what plagiarism entails and...
Content page                                  p.    Declaration of plagiarism                 i    Content page           ...
6. DOMINATING THE DISCOURSE                 36   6.1 Nurturing niches                     36   6.2 Frame control          ...
Abstract:This paper argues that peoples’ lives and experiences are socially constructed, and that socialconstructs are lin...
1. INTRODUCTIONThe existence and use of a medium of expression places at its mercy those who make use of it.Sapir (1958:69...
interpretation taken of hypothesis is) as they share ‘sociolects’ – that is, the shared languages ofgroups (Chandler, 1994...
account of at least the most significant and rudimentary means whereby groups interact withmemes, drawing from the social ...
ensues as monopolies’ profits are swiftly eroded by the vigour of new entrants to capture shareof market through superior ...
forward, and police, their "selves" in society; and ways in which they are enabled or constrainedin their use of different...
being taught to them, or even authorised, owing to them hearing another person accidentally singthe incorrect words (Dawki...
meaning in a given scenario. Hence, brands need an audience (a host), as well as an author (cf.Chandler, 1994b; Fish, 1980...
interactive and highly targeted (albeit oftentimes self-targeted) nature, straddle the definitions ofuserly and makerly.Fo...
experience an aesthetically appealing advertisement in a woman’s magazine read during a lunchbreak in a park in a highly u...
expectations”: consumer’s expectations, like their need-states, are often not explicitly known toeven themselves – yet, it...
management.           3.3 Evolution of a new wayIn yet another return to genetics, Darwin’s principle of “survival of the ...
Lindstrom (2006) asserts that despite this need to adapt and build relevant relationships, andmoreover interactions, with ...
have opinions and values, that much is true; unfortunately brands that fail to do so are mostcertainly dead or dying, beca...
discourses, with their own defining impacts upon the technologies of self ‘allowed’ to be used,and further, owing to the f...
While this is related to the 20th century concept of lifestyle brands, or image branding, it is alsodistinct – where those...
concerns). A successful meme meets two requirements in the minds of its hosts: meaning andrelevance. Product functionality...
their charm, empathy, or humour – as one discovers other memes in common with the other, orcommended memes that are held b...
intimate types of communication – for instance life stories (which Von Markovik (2007:179)calls “grounding” because of the...
one forced to be adopted, especially when that forced personality is to represent an identity thatthey do not really under...
beyond any gains they might have achieved.The hypothesised success of this tactic is based on at least two related princip...
specific manner, to a specific audience in a specific way; and this much should more-or-less besub-communicated to the aud...
justifications and stories told internally attempting to rationalise sensations of confidence andcontentment: a superficia...
difference in communication style and identity (if identity must be shifted over time becausefirst-contacts for whatever r...
media choices, and if sufficient rapport exists this can function as one of the first compliancetests performed by a brand...
connection and trust, but it is also very difficult, unless the brand is certain that their particularaudience is receptiv...
neutral scenario – i.e. one where they have sought out the brand (the process is not linear, and thebrand might start here...
for a while, and will engage in mutually beneficial interactions with them, will take useful thingsfrom them, some of whic...
The brand’s first violation typically occurs upon the opening of the initial dialogue with thewould-be consumer, as they b...
auctions on eBay sell for more than their "Buy it now" price (eBay is a digital auction website,and the “Buy it now” price...
man sitting by himself in a corner could end looking like a social reject.Similarly, the Savanna brand with its oddly shap...
unconventional and unexpected point of planned brand contact can break through commercialclutter barriers to impact on con...
brands as memes the same thing we do every night try to take over the discourse
brands as memes the same thing we do every night try to take over the discourse
brands as memes the same thing we do every night try to take over the discourse
brands as memes the same thing we do every night try to take over the discourse
brands as memes the same thing we do every night try to take over the discourse
brands as memes the same thing we do every night try to take over the discourse
brands as memes the same thing we do every night try to take over the discourse
brands as memes the same thing we do every night try to take over the discourse
brands as memes the same thing we do every night try to take over the discourse
brands as memes the same thing we do every night try to take over the discourse
brands as memes the same thing we do every night try to take over the discourse
brands as memes the same thing we do every night try to take over the discourse
brands as memes the same thing we do every night try to take over the discourse
brands as memes the same thing we do every night try to take over the discourse
brands as memes the same thing we do every night try to take over the discourse
brands as memes the same thing we do every night try to take over the discourse
brands as memes the same thing we do every night try to take over the discourse
brands as memes the same thing we do every night try to take over the discourse
brands as memes the same thing we do every night try to take over the discourse
brands as memes the same thing we do every night try to take over the discourse
brands as memes the same thing we do every night try to take over the discourse
brands as memes the same thing we do every night try to take over the discourse
brands as memes the same thing we do every night try to take over the discourse
brands as memes the same thing we do every night try to take over the discourse
brands as memes the same thing we do every night try to take over the discourse
brands as memes the same thing we do every night try to take over the discourse
brands as memes the same thing we do every night try to take over the discourse
brands as memes the same thing we do every night try to take over the discourse
brands as memes the same thing we do every night try to take over the discourse
brands as memes the same thing we do every night try to take over the discourse
brands as memes the same thing we do every night try to take over the discourse
brands as memes the same thing we do every night try to take over the discourse
brands as memes the same thing we do every night try to take over the discourse
brands as memes the same thing we do every night try to take over the discourse
brands as memes the same thing we do every night try to take over the discourse
brands as memes the same thing we do every night try to take over the discourse
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brands as memes the same thing we do every night try to take over the discourse

  1. 1. The same thing we do every night – Try and take over the Discourse: Brands as Memes By Chris Cox -1-
  2. 2. Declaration of plagiarismI, _________________________, hereby declare that:  I understand what plagiarism entails and am aware of the university’s policy in this regard.  I declare that this final research script is my own, original work. Where someone else’s work was used [whether from printed source, the internet or any other source] due acknowledgement was given and reference was made according to departmental requirements.  I did not make use of another learner’s previous work and submit it as my own.  I did not allow and will not allow anyone to copy my work with the intention of presenting it as his/her own work.Signature Date__________________ ____/____/____ -2-
  3. 3. Content page p. Declaration of plagiarism i Content page ii Abstract iv 1. INTRODUCTION 1 2. LIVING IN LANGUAGE 3 2.1 Natural hierarchies 3 2.2 Technologies of the self 5 2.3 Ways of interacting 6 3. LIVE AND LET DIE 9 3.1 Living in the moment 9 3.2 Brands are central 10 3.3 Evolution of a new way 11 3.4 The power of resonance 13 4. CONNECTING DEEPLY 15 4.1 Deep identity 15 4.2 “Just knowing” 16 4.3 Branding without branding 18 4.4 Contact in the right light 20 4.5 Interaction escalation 22 5. CONNECTING IN THE RIGHT WAY 26 5.1 Social violation theory 26 5.1.1 Social proof 28 5.1.2 Calibration 30 5.1.3 Permission 13 5.1.4 Social Roles 30 5.2 Managing expectations 33 5.3 A product of discourse 35 -3-
  4. 4. 6. DOMINATING THE DISCOURSE 36 6.1 Nurturing niches 36 6.2 Frame control 40 6.3 Dealing with power relations 47 6.4 Ascendancy 51 6.5 Holding court 537. CONCLUSION 588. SOURCE LIST 60 -4-
  5. 5. Abstract:This paper argues that peoples’ lives and experiences are socially constructed, and that socialconstructs are linguistic-social constructs; as such brands are cultural-linguistic constructs(memes) whose goal is to dominate the discourses within which they are involved. Theimportance of that is that they cannot act as objects communicating outwards, but as evolvingself-designed mental entities designed to prosper in a specific environment (just as their physicalcounterparts would). The world of human social interaction and social hierarchy are onesembedded in language; humans (and now brands) make use of sophisticated ‘technologies of theself’ in order to control the ways in which they interact and are perceived to be interacting in thismilieu; brands as memes however require human hosts and must ensure that they understand thevarious factors and resulting techniques that will best enable them to survive and replicate.As a result this paper argues from the basis of myriad social science sources that brands stand tobenefit by reframing their understanding of reality accordingly. First brands must ensure thatthey not only have deep and authentic identities that (at least purport to) extend well beyondprofit-making, but that they must also engineer interaction with audiences that drives audiencesever-deeper into the reality of the brand, all the while their communication, especially all ofthose factors that register below the level of conscious perception but nonetheless shift people’sperceptions of an interaction, must communicate this identity authentically. Second, brands standto benefit by engaging critically in audience-communication, understanding first and foremostthe intrinsic sense-making mechanisms of individuals and the rules that govern socialinteractions in deeming actions ‘appropriate’ or ‘inappropriate’ and assigning value, and thetechniques to leverage these. Third, brands can benefit by realising how they can achieve thedominance and control of a discourse, by understanding how to select and nurture niche marketsinto the mainstream, by controlling the shared understanding and experience of the discourse byall parties involved, by making use of specific techniques in regulating, equalising and evencreating power relations, by making use of specific techniques in order to achieve ascendancyover competitors, and finally by engineering and subverting discourses around a brand. -5-
  6. 6. 1. INTRODUCTIONThe existence and use of a medium of expression places at its mercy those who make use of it.Sapir (1958:69) makes the assertion that the concept of non-verbal thought is in fact a fallacy,and all thinking is in fact linguistic; hence, the worlds in which different groups live are, in fact,distinct worlds, not merely the same world with different labels attached: “[people] see and hearand otherwise experience very largely as [they] do because the language habits of [their]communit[ies] predispose certain choices of interpretation.” Language, Whorf (1956:213)asserts, is an obligatory agreement between members of a group to organise, ascribe significanceto, and codify that which we perceive in specific ways, as guided by the language’s pre-existingconstructs, and reflected in the patterns of their language. No person, object, idea or action thatcan be articulated can thus be devoid of significance, of a categorisation, or of associations andemotional connotations. Conversely, Chandler (1994a) posits that the language used by theindividual is influenced by the way in which they see the world.Brands do not exist outside of this matrix. The world of commerce and economy is alinguistically constructed world that lives and breathes and exists within the broader socialworld. In fact, this very principle is the cornerstone upon which branding exists, and its raisondétre – without the power of emotional connotation and of a linguistically defined world all thatremains is bland, flat objectivity. Yet simultaneously brands, as entities with the ability toarticulate concepts and ideas (albeit on a much larger scale) are not confined to the realm of theobject – that is, the article being defined. They are able to also contribute to and co-creatediscourses. Furthermore, although the exact mix and flavouring of perceptions of theexperienced world, and the conceptions surrounding, are unique to each individual, the realm ofshared understandings, perceptions and conceptions of groups of belonging is the vaster by far.Humans involuntarily enter the contract of their medium of expression at a very young age asindividuals. But language is not a static entity. Even as language novices children begin to twist,distort, conjugate and misinterpret terms, which are occasionally even adopted by adults; thisprocess becomes increasingly more effective as the language user becomes more adept, and aslevels of interaction increase these language mutations become increasingly common. Dialogueswithin groups, and between groups, shift and incrementally evolve, and at times even radicallychange the meanings of terms. When this insight is considered in connection with Sapir-Whorf’shypothesis that language defines the human experience of life, it is clear that the life experiencesof individuals are socially constructed, to at least some degree (dependent on the extremity of the -6-
  7. 7. interpretation taken of hypothesis is) as they share ‘sociolects’ – that is, the shared languages ofgroups (Chandler, 1994a).With this realisation comes the opportunity for brands to enter these dialogues not as objectshoping and attempting to be interpreted in a specific way, but rather as active participants who,making use of the rules of the discourse they intend to enter as regarding engagement andreinterpretation, utilise their unique (and given the proper application of these rules, remarkablypowerful) voice to shift the discourse in directions favourable to the brand.Upon the consideration of the fact that the perceptions an individual has of what is outside ofhim/herself are linguistic and social constructs, the logical conclusion must be reached that theperceptions and relationships with these entities (people, objects, ideologies, etc.) are constructsthat ‘live’ in the mind of the individual. As such, these perceptions and relationships are notobjective constructs, but rather subjective and evolving ideas: what Dawkins (2006:189) calls“memes” – the cognitive equivalents of the genes; units of cultural transmission. These memes,and their combination, necessarily (building from the argument previous) form the basis of theindividual’s experience of life. Memes often exist in clusters of more-or-less integratedcooperative sets, known as memeplexes – explaining the way in which upon joining new groupspeople often take on new language (the ‘sociolects’ spoken of previously) and new seeminglyunrelated attitudes and behaviours. Arguing that most of what is unusual about humankind canbe summed up as “culture”, Dawkins (2006:191) asserts that cultural transmission, while mostlyconservative, like genetic transmission, can give rise to a form of evolution, citing the exampleof the evolution of language, which clearly does not evolve along genetic lines. However, it isnot only language, but also fashion, customs, art, architecture, engineering and technology,amongst other things which all evolve in a way that “looks like highly speeded up geneticevolution, but really has nothing to do with genetic evolution.” In the online world, blog postsare clear examples of memes: one can observe a given blog post an author has written, follow it(through Trackbacks) as other various authors engage with and mutates and spreads it, and inturn how their readership too engages with it.As one of the constructs, and units of culture, that ‘live’ in the minds of individuals, brands are infact memes; if this is so, brands then have the ability to impact upon their human carrier’sexperiences of life in a deep way; brands are internal to their ‘human carriers’, not external; theyare social entities, not objects; they need to interact with people as groups of human individuals,not as masses. They need to learn to be sociable. As such, the task of this paper will be to give an -7-
  8. 8. account of at least the most significant and rudimentary means whereby groups interact withmemes, drawing from the social sciences factors that make specific memes more effective intheir quests to both survive and replicate in social group settings, with a particular focus uponhow memes are able to not merely survive but in fact dominate a particular discourse. This newperspective may enable brand communication professionals to reframe some views related tobranding, enabling the viewing of branding practises in a sliver of potential new light and sparknew potential territories for thought and research. Additionally, in accordance with thepostmodern perspective of this paper, its aim is primarily to be useful and to generate beneficialexplanations and territories for others to do likewise, as opposed to aiming to be ‘true’ or givingan flawless explanation of an objective ‘reality’. 2. LIVING IN LANGUAGE 2.1 Natural hierarchiesBrands, and memes in general, do not exist in a static environment; as such, like their organicequivalents, they are forced to adapt and develop, for only those most effective in survival andreplication have futures. Godin (2000) asserts that “[w]hen you create an idea and lay thegroundwork for it to become a virus, it pays to study the vector you’d like it to follow. Why?Because there’s plenty you can do to influence its vector, and the vector you choose will have alot to do with who “gets” the virus. The vector controls the hives through which the idea flows.”In the same way, but potentially more significantly, and earlier in the design process, it is crucialto understand the elementary tenets of change in the contemporary environment wherein theyexist, so as to understand the changes that they necessarily must undergo in order to survive.The contemporary commercial environment has become increasingly similar to the naturalenvironment – it is increasingly cluttered and highly competitive, it is unforgiving, it requiresquick adaptation and implementation, it requires the development of communities of trust andtrusting synergistic relationships.Schumpeter, according to McCraw (2007), argues that the American “scheme of values” in the19th century, “drew nearly all the brains into business …and impressed the businessman’sattitude upon the soul of the nation.” Furthermore, business in this manifestation constantlyfights for its survival in the competitive environment, developing what modern business schoolscall “strategy,” that is, “an attempt by firms to keep on their feet,” as Schumpeter put it, “onground that is slipping away under them.” Considering this it is inevitable that innovation -8-
  9. 9. ensues as monopolies’ profits are swiftly eroded by the vigour of new entrants to capture shareof market through superior perception management and through superior competitive offerings –all of which drive innovation in their respective areas, and moreover speed the rate ofenvironmental change, which reciprocally drives the rate of necessary innovation. Thecontemporary situation is defined by change and innovation at an accelerating rate; the key tolong-term success lies in brands’ abilities to dominate particular discourses, and in order to do soinnovation is important in their ability to develop and evolve with, and ahead of the environmentand offer value in unique and sustainable ways – that is, ensuring that the brand exists in afavourable way in the minds of its audiences, making use of authentic and effective socialinteraction, and through what Godin (2000) styles “sneezable” product/service offering-experiences – that is offerings that are easily spread and incite users to spread them.Ensuring that brands exist favourably in the minds of audiences becomes increasingly complexas one considers the implications of brands as memetic entities, existing within complicatedsocial structures, whose ultimate goal is to dominate particular discourse; fortunately, thisperspective also avail the brand of increasingly powerful and effective tools and perspectives.Social value and hierarchies are created and exist linguistically in social settings linguistically asthis paper has asserted previously. Baudrillard (2002) argues that: “Meaning is based upon an absence (so dog means dog not because of what the word says, as such, but because of what it does not say: cat, goat, tree et cetera). In fact, [he viewed] meaning as near enough self-referential: objects, images of objects, words and signs are situated in a web of meaning; one objects meaning is only understandable through its relation to the meaning of other objects. One things prestigiousness relates to anothers quotidianity.”As such it would seem a pertinent to engage the topic of group theory.If the human experience of what is perceived as ‘reality’ is in fact socially constructed, then it isalso true that it is constructed from an innumerable multitude of sources, both those that haveaided the individual in its construction in the past, and those that ongoingly aid in its constructionpresently.An individual is at any time under the influence of a vast number of “groups of belonging” (pastand present) and is under the influence of and is taking part in a number of “discourses”, all ofwhich merge in a complicated self-interpretative and negotiated compromise that is the‘personality’ of the individual. The manifestation thereof occurs through the filter of whatFoucault labels the “technologies of the self” – referring to the “ways in which people put -9-
  10. 10. forward, and police, their "selves" in society; and ways in which they are enabled or constrainedin their use of different techniques by available discourses,” (Gauntlett, 2007). Groups ofbelonging and discourses encountered are generally linked; and owing to the memory of humans,and their need to generate fictions to account for their experiences, exposures and cognitions,however temporary, ‘live in’ individuals. That is, their effects are lasting, and like myriadchemical elements continuously added into a single test-tube in varying quantities remain inert ormix and react spontaneously, rendering unique individuals, and driving action in thoseindividuals. Unlike the chemicals in a typical test-tube however, these elements need not form acoherent solution, and are more-or-less cordoned off from one another, oftentimes acting andgenerating action in highly paradoxical and even contradictory fashions, which the host may ormay not comprehend. 2.2 Technologies of the selfBrands, like natural entities strive to ‘insert’ a consciousness, personality and interpretation oftheir pasts and world experiences, constantly encountering and interacting with surroundingdiscourses, and negotiating power and perceptual definitions. However, unlike natural entities,brands have a far greater scope for identity and level of control of the creation andimplementation thereof. That is, their technologies of the self tend to be more developed, and thefinances and skills, as well as media available to the brand to represent itself offer far greaterflexibility and scope than the options available to the typical individual. Yet, brands would seemto be unversed in the social discourses into which they are necessarily placed, and the rules,regulations and power constraints with which they are faced in these scenarios, oftentimesbrazenly ignoring these factors to their (relative) detriment.All ‘personalities’ are in one sense memes, and any individual and group will have specificrelationships with them: regardless of whether one regards a human, a tangible object, or even anaction or abstract thought, all are socially constructed memes. In this sense, everything is abrand. However, memes in the popular sense are contagious (or attempt to be contagious atleast); this leaves an interesting quandary: how does an entity manipulate its technologies of selfin such a way as to both imbed itself in others as a concept for a sufficiently long period of time(longevity) for so as to enable it to spread to new others (fecundity) with a degree of accuracy(copying fidelity), while also ensuring that its host is under its command in some sphere andtakes a desired action – some memes are primarily ‘actionables’: for instance a person singingand thus spreading unconsciously a specific version of a specific song, despite that version not - 10 -
  11. 11. being taught to them, or even authorised, owing to them hearing another person accidentally singthe incorrect words (Dawkins, 2006:323); but many memes are primarily ‘view-shifting’, in thatthey distinctly take ownership of a specific territory in the minds of individuals that has impactsupon other memes and ways of viewing things and acting, and may secondarily contain anactionable component. This should however not be seen in a binary fashion, but rather as agradiented continuum; most brands fall neither squarely on one extreme or the other, but ratherat a point in between, although it would be reasonable to expect that more low-involvementbrands would be situated nearer the actionable extreme, while the converse would be true forhigher involvement brands, as one would tend to ‘define’ oneself more by their higherinvolvement purchases (although it must be noted that for different individuals and groupsdifferent items will be perceived as low- or high-involvement, and also those perceptionsprojected onto others; for a specific group of teenagers bound by a common group and discoursearound skateboarding, one’s choice of cola may be an intensely defining moment of self – brandscan never lose sight of the fact that in this framework their identity makes up a part of theconsumer’s identity, and their very being must intrinsically give rise to meaning and value).To be sure, even the concepts collectively making up communication practises and what it is to‘be’ groups are memes; these ideas can be exchanged, interlinked, spread and can evolvedynamically (as well as be actively fostered in a given direction, given proper care). Theimplications of this entire section is that both memetic entities and their technologies of the self(in the case of sentient entities) both function within specific frameworks of discourse, and arealso made up of specific frameworks of discourse; they can only act and evolve as thesediscourses enable them to. 2.3 Ways of interactingLike humans, brands have ‘living’ personalities and manifest them through skilfully managedtechnologies of self; only the media involved differ. Yet, brands for all their insights into others,skills in developing communication, and their budgets in ensuring communications brandsfrequently fail to engage positively with the one key area that it is easiest for them to forget, asessentially non-physical entities. It is this same area whose interpretation is the key basis forsocial skill to the socially savvy human, and it is this same area that brands would be best tolearn in order to best ensure their success, and this is element is the understanding of discoursesof social group interaction. Brands, as pure memetic entities like texts, are not self-validating inthe way that humans are – human beings can and will construct memetic entities to create - 11 -
  12. 12. meaning in a given scenario. Hence, brands need an audience (a host), as well as an author (cf.Chandler, 1994b; Fish, 1980) in order to have meaning – thus they must exist in a social contextand take part in the particular sociolect of a particular group in a particular context.It is clear that the brand must employ a variety of communication messages and techniques inorder to successfully escalate interaction, particularly in a properly calibrated media effort.Barthes (Hawkes, 1977:114) argues that two fundamental styles of texts exist, in terms of theirengagement of the reader: the readerly (“lisible” in the words of Barthes, or perhaps a morerelevant term in the digital era, from Chandler (1994), “userly”) and the writerly (“scripible,” orperhaps “makerly” (ibid)). A readerly text leaves a reader with a simple ‘accept’ or ‘reject’response to the text, treating the writer as the producer and the reader as the passive consumerand suggest their ‘reflection’ of the ‘real world’ (examples are that of a telephone directory or adictionary). On the other hand, a writerly text requests the active participation of the reader, andtakes a level of involvement in the construction of reality (for example, a poem or short storytends to fall into this category). Ironically, it can be argued that for many people it is the readerlytexts that tend, in fact, to be described as readable; whilst writerly texts are often referred to asunreadable as they require a far more active involvement and analysis. However, it is not onlythe style of the text, but also the manner wherein the consumer of the text engages it: forinstance, poem might be used as a source of biographical information, while a dictionary mightbe used as a source of ‘found poetry’ – with experienced readers the usage of a text can dependentirely upon the reader, although the text might position itself as facilitating a particular usemore conveniently and effectively, which can be equally important, in what the age of the “timestarved” postmodern consumer (cf. Bellman et al., 1999; Grewal et al., 2004)However, with the encroachment of postmodernism into Western society, and its gradualinfiltration on both conscious and unconscious levels into the mainstream, it would seem thatincreasing amounts of content are entering the realm of the makerly – for instance, a vast amountof MTV’s generated and broadcast content could be classified this way; as could thecontemporary trend of blogging, forums and other so-called ‘Web 2.0’ content and mobilemedia. The growth of “New Media” – over the period 2000-2007 Internet usage alone has grown225% to just under 18% of the world’s population, with some regions reaching almost 70%penetration as at 30 June 2007 according to Nielsen//Netratings (Miniwatts Marketing Group,2007) – appears to lend itself to the argument that the contemporary consumer seeks a moreinteractive, self-generated, and credible (to their own worldviews and language surrounding)experience (cf. McCarthy and Wright, 2004; Szmigin 2003) – which may, owing to its - 12 -
  13. 13. interactive and highly targeted (albeit oftentimes self-targeted) nature, straddle the definitions ofuserly and makerly.For the brand this represents opportunities to define itself and be defined in ways that will beinsightfully favourable to the brand – i.e. it is not always favourable to promote oneself, or one’sclaims explicitly, it may be more favourable to use a more makerly approach – for instance,while targeting a number of highly diverse consumer groups with a single message (owing tobudget constraints, or in order to reduce message complexity, or even to establish a greaterdegree of consumer ownership of the brand and its messages). The Savanna cider brand in SouthAfrica may be a good example of such a strategy, where the only brand advertisements are atbest tangential to the product itself, but whose content and tone facilitate a makerly interactionwith the brand, as a variety of audiences interpreted the brand into their own contexts andlinguistic constructs. This effect can oftentimes be enriched through the use of micro-targetingstrategies wherein dialogue is created.It could be argued that makerly communications are the ‘indirect’ method, soft sell (cf. the earlywork of Rubicam of Young & Rubicam fame) method of advertising which best facilitatescomfort and rapport building – but that it is possible that these brands leverage moments ofuserly communication and directness in order to capitalise on comfort and value created (asSavanna does from time-to-time with its various promotional offers). This argument could beextrapolated to hypothesise that the reason social and cause branding is effective is only partlydue to consumer’s values level identification with the firm, but also owing to the mannerwherein consumers are able to engage with the branded material, constructing their ownconceptions and being ‘trusted’ by the brand to do so, resulting in a higher level of rapport andtrust it allowed to built through such an interaction.Needless to say, this is not merely a message construction constraint, but a more all-encompassing consideration that extends to choice and placement of media, as well as targetaudience insights and roles. Media choice is a particularly important consideration in this view ascertain media are more prone to the facilitation of certain types of interaction, by certainaudiences in specific roles and states, at specific times. For instance, a businesswoman who isalso a mother of two children may experience an advertorial placed in the business section of anewspaper publication on her public transport trip to work in the morning as an interactivedebate, where she actively considers the opinions of the authors and debates them with her ownevaluations, allowing them to spur her on to further evaluations and musings, but may - 13 -
  14. 14. experience an aesthetically appealing advertisement in a woman’s magazine read during a lunchbreak in a park in a highly userly manner, merely accepting or rejecting the information,considering only the credibility of the source and her own experiences in the matter. Likewise, ateenage school-going girl may glance upon the same aesthetically appealing advertisement in athe same publication and engage with it in a makerly manner, constructing semiotic andexperiential meanings and attaching them to the message; but may engage with a televisionadvertisement for a petrochemicals firm played during the evening news in a highly userlymanner, accepting or rejecting the message based on anecdotal and experiential sources.Although closely related, userly and makerly modes of interaction are not to be confused withPetty and Cacioppo’s (1986) central and peripheral routes of persuasion, which dealspredominantly with the person experiencing the message and their ability or inability to processthe content, and the according effects this has upon them, where’s the work of Barthes as appliedhere is concerned with constitution of the message and the format wherein it is engaged by theconsumer, and the impact that has upon the reception of the brand. 3. LIVE AND LET DIE 3.1 Living in the momentIn order for the brand-meme to obtain said hosts they must perform the two essential functions oforganic entities: survive, and replicate. Both require the brand to at least purportedly providebenefit (or threat of harm if removed or not taken on) to their host or potential hosts. For a brandto survive, it need only fend off offending competitors (see Ascendancy under 6.4) – which mayinclude subtly unrelated other memes that may slow or stop consumption behaviour. For a brandto be readily spread, or be “sneezable” it must necessarily resonate on a most deep level with theaudience it hopes to engage with, in the environment it hopes to engage with them in, ensuringthat its communication is appropriate to the mental state and role of the audience – what isknown as “need-states” (Schreuder, 2007) (cf. Rodgers, 2004), which draw from the theory thatthere are a limited number of primal human desires (for instance ‘health and beauty’, ‘power’,‘status’, etc.) and that these are manifested more or less strongly in certain moments, and thatproducts should be engineered, marketed and made available to meet those needs in thosemoments. Failure to do so results in the “wallpapering” of brands – brands whose commercialmessages blend into the unnoticed background fabric of the audience.Need-states are related to, although not the same as what can be called consumer’s “secret - 14 -
  15. 15. expectations”: consumer’s expectations, like their need-states, are often not explicitly known toeven themselves – yet, it is clear that they are responsive to them (as a corollary, this text rejectsthe dichotomy between characterisations of consumers as ‘dupes’ and consumer sovereignty(“power of the consumer”) as superficial – both of these states exist simultaneously, but aremanifest by specific need-states at different times and in different ways in different interactions).Unlike need-states, the secret expectations of an individual regarding a product or category donot necessarily reveal the most effective way to communicate it, rather only the most “fitting” –meaning, the manner wherein the consumer would be most accustomed to experiencing suchcommunication, which may in fact be the least effective manner in some cases. In a world wherethe consumer and brand live together in synergistic relationships, much like birds who in gainingnutrition from the fruits of plants also spread their seeds, what influences the consumerinfluences the companies that wish to reach him/her – understanding these forces will definebrands and the economy going forward (Bellas, 2006). 3.2 Brands are centralTo shift the analogy back, brands – like genes, their organic equivalents – have the greatestchance of survival not alone as solitary organisms fighting for survival in the primordialcommunications soup that is the discourse; but rather as the engines and the drivers behind thesurvival machines that are businesses, and much more, as replicating, diversifying, evolvingorganisms. This view necessarily places the brand at the heart of the business; it is the essence ofthe business and its essential reason for being. The make-up of the brand may or may not bealtruistic or driven by values (as this paper later argues brands with developed identities have agreater chance of survival), but in all businesses the brand is central as the essence of thebusiness, whether or not executives choose to consciously perceive it in this manner. Hence, thedefinition of brand used in this paper will follow and work from Thoma’s (2007) definition as“the sum total of all that is known, thought, felt and perceived about your company, service orproduct,” where that definition encompasses not only the visual and communication elements asthe definition given by the Dictionary of Business and Management’s does (Building BrandsLtd., 2005), but rather to all that can be perceived of the brand in the human capacity, andapplies not only to the mind’s of the consumers as the definition of Aaker (ibid) would seem tolend itself to (as he speaks of the “value provided by the product or service” which would seemto lend itself to a clearly consumerist orientation), but rather to all persons with any contact withthe brand – both external stakeholders of all varieties, but more importantly in ensuring a brand’ssurvival and evolution into the future, internal stakeholders of all varieties, particularly - 15 -
  16. 16. management. 3.3 Evolution of a new wayIn yet another return to genetics, Darwin’s principle of “survival of the fittest” is really a specialapplied case of the much larger principle that is survival of the stable (Dawkins, 2006:17). Inprevious times, perhaps not even over a quarter of a century ago, a stable brand (i.e. one whoseidentity was consistently manifest and introduced into consumer’s lives, and who overcomecash-flow difficulties to ensure its longevity) was fairly sure to triumph through the “television-industrial complex”: the ability to ‘interrupt’ consumer’s lives with advertising messages, whichin turn drove product purchase, and thus the repetition of this cycle (Godin, 2004). This cycle isunfortunately ended – ended, just like the early stable organism’s success by the superabundanceof competition and in this case media choice also, leading to increasingly niche and fragmentedmarkets, dominated no longer by brands but by empowered consumers (Lindstrom, 2006). Thosethat now succeed are those that are nimble and quick to change and evolve: those that best sensethe external environment and adapt. Thus, the evolution of the integrated and strategically-oriented brand: Aaker describes how brands must move beyond mere integration, and seekstrategy and understanding of the environment within which they operate, in a far broader sensethan merely target audience media consumption, but deep insights, macro-economic, and socio-political understandings (Singh, 2006).These new strategically-oriented brands are akin to the earliest organisms with sensory capacity,which in many cases greatly aids their ability to survive – but just as in evolution, some sensoryevolutions were not accurate and led their hosts to destruction, and as such were weeded out ofexistence: so shall it be with branding. Yet, those that do survive will face new challenges – thememetic pool is now too crowded for it to be dominated by one strain of thinking, and sooncompetition will arise that is better equipped to deal with the realities of the discourse than thesebrands even; this paper suggests that this new species of brand will not be merely functional, asthose of the industrial age were, nor will they be merely persuasive, as those of the twentiethcentury were, they will not be merely strategic as those of modern times are; each generationbuilds upon the last, and only its strongest survive and adapt, it is suggested that these will be thebrands that are embodiments [of the epitomisation of a discourse]. These brands will embodyand epitomise the key values of the particular discourse within which their audiences areinvolved, in all aspects – the first purposefully, holistically aspirational brands (cf. MillwardBrown, 2007). - 16 -
  17. 17. Lindstrom (2006) asserts that despite this need to adapt and build relevant relationships, andmoreover interactions, with consumers, many, if not most, brands remain unable to make thisleap successfully. First, many brands find themselves unable to penetrate the cloud of clutterthat envelopes the contemporary consumer (Godin, 2005b), unable to gain their attention as theyare overwhelmed by the sheer volume of communication and put on their selective attentiongoggles – so much so that Porter (2006) believes that trusted sources account for most purchases,citing an NYTimes article that notes that at least two thirds of NetFlix rentals are generated byrecommendations. By its very definition clutter means that most advertisements are not noticed,probably more than advertisers would like to believe. Second, many brands find themselveswithout impact on the contemporary consumer, even once they have broken through the clutter;and when impact is achieved brands often find themselves “punching below their weight”,failing to achieve the levels of impact they would desire on their budgets (Interbrand, 2007).Finally brands find themselves oftentimes struggling to build rapport and trust with consumers ina world where word of mouth and direct experience are the most, if not even the only, crediblesources; in fact, it is alleged that ten percent of the American population makes decisions for therest of the population through this process, on issues ranging from political voting to eveningmovies (Keller & Berry, 2006).The contemporary consumer on the other hand, can be summarily described as seeking threeattributes in their brand relationships. Firstly, consumers have grown accustomed to having a“voice” and a say in brands and branding – desiring to contribute to and co-own both thecommunication and the offering itself (Lindstrom, 2006); brands must engage consumers inways the consumer seeks to engage with them in, while they are in the correct state and playingthe correct role to be engaged in that way. Thus branding leaves the realm of activities directed‘at’ audiences, to enter the realm of an activity performed ‘with’ the audience; brands becomejointly constructed (Locke, et al., 1999). Secondly, consumers seek human interaction and afeeling of connection – one could argue, as some theorists do, that consumers experience a senseof anxiety and alienation owing to capitalism’s and now technology’s isolating effects, as well asthe effect of increasing pace of living and shiftings away from tradional values (cf. Aaker, 1996;Arvidson, 2005; Socialist Review, 2000). Thirdly, consumers seek authentic developed identitiesand values, not mere functionality – to draw from Godin’s (2003) terminology, functionality canonly be a “purple cow” for a limited period before it fades back to “brownness” and isreabsorbed into the clutter as consumers bore of it and competitors imitate and better it. It isdangerous and controversial to have a developed identity and it can be unpopular for a brand to - 17 -
  18. 18. have opinions and values, that much is true; unfortunately brands that fail to do so are mostcertainly dead or dying, because brands now depend on conversations with and amongstconsumers, and without substance and without provocation and edge all that remains ismundanity, and no conversation exists around the bland and boring – unless it is exceptional forits incredible blandness and boringness (Lindstrom, 2006). 3.4 The power of resonanceBrands are losing relevance hand over fist in the new economy, and consumers do not care.Brand managers do though: London (2004) quotes brand guru Aaker: “It seems that just aboutevery company I visit is struggling with this stuff [sharpening their brand management skills, orrisking seeing their products become irrelevant]. Either they are not sure which brands to grow,or they have too many brands and can’t cut through the clutter, or they have brands that arelosing relevance.” New niche sub-markets emerge at an alarming pace, catching brands in areaswhere they are simply irrelevant.But how can it be ensured that a brand will be able to dominate or ‘lead’ a group that it enters,save for by chance? For chance, after all is only another term expressing ignorance; it meansdetermined by some as yet unknown, or unspecified means. Surely, better performance thanmere ‘chance’ can be achieved, building from the collected experience of the social sciences andtheir guiding principles and generalisations, as related to interpersonal and group dynamics in theWestern climate.Groups are fragmenting and are being further artificially fragmented by marketers in order tobetter realise the ultimate goal of “particle marketing” – marketing to unique individuals withunique messages (cf. Godin, 2005a:100; Negroponte, 1995:164). Groups tend to be similar,especially when they share traits that are not ‘globally acceptable’ in greater society, sharingmany other unrelated traits too as a result of the high level of group viscosity that has developedin order to ensure the group’s survival in a “hostile” environment (Dawkins, 2006:219). Even ifthe vision of particle marketing is achieved, the reality is that individual traits are memeticconstructs, which live and breathe, reproduce and evolve as socially constructed entities –collectively these memetic constructs form a constellation of ideas, which in its ultimate form isknown as the discourse.Owing to the fact that brands operate, as groups and individuals do, in specific networks of - 18 -
  19. 19. discourses, with their own defining impacts upon the technologies of self ‘allowed’ to be used,and further, owing to the fact that in order for memes to spread they necessarily must offer, orappear to offer, some virtue if adopted (or threat of disadvantage if not adopted) – theinterpretation of which differs between sociolects – they must become shrewd in the constructionand constitution of their identities, growing ever more insight-focussed. Moreover, because life,and the individual’s experience of it, is narrative – that is, life is not a clean step-by-step, bullet-point process; but rather a chaotic tapestry of actions, experiences and unrelated connections –and what is more, that within the present environment the individual’s experience of thisnarrative is at best cluttered and at worst overwhelming (Schreuder, 2007) the individual’screated internal narrative-fiction, as they recount their experience internally, leaves vast gapsempty, as the individual consciously and unconsciously puts on their ‘selective attentiongoggles’ and filters out elements deemed to be irrelevant.If as the individual constructs their internal narrative-fiction the ‘real world’ is as a constructedstoryboard (which just as with other narratives cannot be too cluttered or too filled withirrelevancies, in order to maintain coherence) to the individual (ibid), and the impact anyinteraction has upon an individual is a question of relevance, then the natural tendency for anycommunication seeking impact, especially within such an increasingly fragmented and diversecontext, is to craft increasingly niche strategies (increasing niche-ness increases potentialrelevance to a particular audience, albeit at the potential cost of other audiences), andincreasingly experiential strategies (increasing experience of a relevant idea increases potentialfor impact, as it ‘outclutters’ and overwhelms competing concepts, for a time).The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle made special mention of the power of the tone and styleof a message, noting that when an audience buys into a tone, they are far more likely to buy intothe logic and emotional experience of a message also (Ramage & Bean, 1998:81) – which is inperfect keeping with the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis outlined prior. Further, when groups sharecommon attributes (in reality, memeplexes), they will also be given to share a degree of commontone. In order to thus resonate with these would-be consumers the brand must adopt a posturingsimilar to that of the group. In fact, the brand must identify the individual memes that comprisethis memeplex with as much specificity as is possible, these must then be investigatedthoroughly, including their interrelations, and then extrapolated to their logical conclusions(‘epitomised’, so to speak). These conclusions must then be reconstituted into a new epitomisedidentity whose tone the brand communication engineers involved will reverse-engineer so as tobuild a brand identity (in the modern, strategic fashion of theorists such as Aaker or Keller). - 19 -
  20. 20. While this is related to the 20th century concept of lifestyle brands, or image branding, it is alsodistinct – where those approaches were concerned with the discovery of elements of theindividual’s identity so as to discover their highest manifestations, this approach suggests thatthe brand collect and reconstitute that knowledge into its own identity, and aims to embody thatidentity – for instance, taking a single element as an example: where image branding mightsuggest that a specific target market aspired to the lifestyle and fame of professionalskateboarders and then produce advertising suggesting that the use of their product would availthe audience of that experience, epitomisation aims to embody such fame and fortune by literallyhaving the brand embody that experience by understanding what the defining expressions of keymemes are in that audience’s epitomised profile, for instance the brand targeting persons aspiringskateboarding heroes would recognise that the defining expression are ‘realness’ and ‘comicalirreverence’ and become the most comical but aggressively blunt and opinionated brand: itwould alienate a vast portion of mainstream consumers to be sure, but the niche market beingtargeted would love the brand beyond any other. 4. CONNECTING DEEPLY 4.1 Deep identityThis is not to say that “lowest common denominator” communication strategies are dead, andthat there can be no overarching principles of communication; indeed, they exist and they dothrive, and it is likely that they will do so, so long as there remains large bodies of humans whoare linked in common languages and cultural formations (and thus fundamental philosophies,worldviews and experiences), (Whorf, 1965:213). But their forms change, one should notconfuse the principle with the vehicle of execution – no longer are “lowest commondenominator” communication vehicles (such as national television advertising) successful;rather, a message must have the freedom to evolve and be customised and take on differentforms, so as to best ensure their prosperity in their potential hosts. Before this paper considersseveral overarching lowest common denominator communication principles for the success of ameme, it is important to consider the impacts of the contemporary context upon the constitutionof the meme, if it is to be successful.The contemporary brand requires an authentic identity that reaches beyond the mere sale ofproducts – it certainly can no longer afford to be obviously constructed (a symptom of shallowidentity and values), or to fail to offer value within its communication itself (a seemingly simplechallenge, which becomes increasingly difficult upon integration with all other identity - 20 -
  21. 21. concerns). A successful meme meets two requirements in the minds of its hosts: meaning andrelevance. Product functionality with a twist of personality can of course fulfil these tworequirements, however the role of branding is to make sustainable that which is otherwiseunsustainable, to make competitive that which is otherwise not competitive, to add value wherethere is none. This approach would be shallow and short-sighted for a number of reasons, chiefamongst which is the fact that the value of the meme is rooted in its physical manifestation –which is not necessarily dangerous, however in this case it is as the value is functional, and thusthe threat of a competitor copying or simulating the functional benefit is of great note, leading tocommoditisation (or worse, if the competitive product is able to add value using brandingidentity techniques). Of slightly longer term concern is the threat of changing consumer needs –a product will thus require revision or even complete replacement to meet these needs, but owingto the lack of defined brand identity continuity is most limited.Thus, positioning centred on being “the best [product]” is not a sustainable strategy. Consumersask two questions upon encountering a brand, and it is suggested that they are asked (counter-intuitively) in this order: first, “what do you mean to me?”, and second, “who are you?”. Thefirst can be answered by any brand, but the second requires depth and an appearance ofauthenticity – for only with the second can the interaction be negotiated as between twoidentities, as they seek to understand their respective roles; without this, the interaction isdecidedly one-sided. This communication as a rule should not be explicit: as a rule sub-communication is both more powerful and more credible and authentic than explicitcommunication (Rumbauskas, 2007) (many brands violate this rule owing to the challenge ofdrawing audiences sufficiently into their reality as to become aware of sub-communication, thisis owing to both limited budgets and creativity, as well as poor Frame Control (discussed under6.2)). 4.2 “Just knowing”In the ruthless world of memetics, perception, as unfortunate as it is, is reality. If only the mostbeneficial and useful memes spread there would be no war, no greed, and no questions of truthand morals. Sub-communication is all of the cues that enable a potential host to assess thevalidity and benefit of a meme – in the same way as a person might meet another person, look atsomeone and hear them talk and interact with them it is possible to ‘get a feeling’ for what kindof person they are, and of person hangs out with this person. This is not always the case, ofcourse, oftentimes one might interact with a person that ‘isn’t their type’ and be won over by - 21 -
  22. 22. their charm, empathy, or humour – as one discovers other memes in common with the other, orcommended memes that are held by the other, that were not apparent upon the initial encounter(Rumbauskas, 2007). So, while the niche of identity chosen by the brand plays a role, andpredisposes certain people and groups of people to and against it (this is an important facet – themore niche an identity is, the stronger the connections towards it will be, and the easier satirisedit will be), it can also be subverted given sufficient resources (Godin, 2006b).In effect, some messages have more credibility than others, they simply resonate with theworldview of their audiences more powerfully – they are not necessarily more objectively true orfalse, instead they are fictions and accounts of happenings, ideas, objects and the world of‘reality’ whose structure and composition resonates more powerfully with the experiences andworldviews of the audience (Godin, 2006b). In terms of branding, it is clear that as memesbrands set out with a disadvantage from the ubiquity of publications and conversations acrossmedia criticising brands, advertising and marketing for developing ‘marketing speak’ and othertools to synthetically veneer poor offerings. Years of inauthenticity and hyperbole have turnedbranded communication into the commercial equivalent of junk-science in the minds ofaudiences; even a powerfully resonating brand has still to do much work in order to overcomethis credibility gap and connect at all. One of the chief complaints levelled against corporatesengaging in ‘marketing speak’ is that in their communication no human life-experience shows:the communication is sanitised, and consumers can perceive the cues that offer them theimpression that the message was not expressive of the sender, it was made purely because it wasthey perceived that the recipient wanted to hear. By and large consumers are desensitised to it tosuch a degree that they no longer expect any better – oftentimes purchase is closer to picking thelesser of two evils (Locke, et al., 1999).The typical approach taken to this problem, with some good effect, and which cannot be ignored,is simple; Sink (2004) calls it the “Law of Candor [sic]” – that is, “when you admit a negative,the prospect will give you a positive,” building from the respect given (especially in light of theubiquity of ‘marketing speak’ audiences are exposed to) by audiences to organisationscourageous and honest enough to admit that not everything is perfect, or aligned with their brandimages. The ability of a person, writes Von Markovik (2007:173), and how much more true of abrand, to admit vulnerability demonstrates and creates an emotional connection between them.This is kind of emotional connection is created not only by the ability to face up to and confrontactual weaknesses and vulnerabilities (in fact Von Markovik argues that if none are apparent tothe audience, one should structure opportunities to ‘accidentally’ reveal them), but also other - 22 -
  23. 23. intimate types of communication – for instance life stories (which Von Markovik (2007:179)calls “grounding” because of the way these interactive routines are able to draw the connectionbetween a more flamboyant and intimidating (or at least incredible) identity, and the reality ofthe audience), as well as speaking openly and honestly about negativity and the hard truths of life(with a very strong caveat: with the world-view the audience will find strong and appealing; anhonest and authentic brand is great, but no audience needs a whining, insecure or miserablebrand in their life). The revealing of vulnerabilities in a sincere and believable way buildscomfort; comfort itself is merely a lack of discomfort. It is partnered with trust, which isgenerated by reliable independence of values and motives (discussed in paragraphs to come):comfort is the belief and feeling on the part of the individual that the brand has good intentionstowards them, while trust is the belief that in situations where they feel uncomfortable the brandwill do whatever they can to make that alleviate that sensation, and make them feel safe (adaptedfrom Von Markovik (2007:160).Scoble & Israel (2006) claim the success of blogging, particular in reference to whatdifferentiates it from other corporate communications, is due to the fact that real people aresimply more believable than actors pretending to be real people. In 1999 the movement for thehuman-voice approach towards marketing was popularised by the Cluetrain Manifesto (Locke, etal., 1999), characterised by the view that: “These markets are conversations. Their members communicate in language that is natural, open, honest, direct, funny and often shocking. Whether explaining or complaining, joking or serious, the human voice is unmistakably genuine. It cant be faked… Most corporations, on the other hand, only know how to talk in the soothing, humorless monotone of the mission statement, marketing brochure, and your-call-is-important-to-us busy signal. Same old tone, same old lies. No wonder networked markets have no respect for companies unable or unwilling to speak as they do.” 4.3 Branding without brandingPopular culture archetypically accepts the existence of an internal ‘discoverable’ identity,alterable in manifestation by circumstance and experience, but fundamentally immutable. All ofthese positions are grounded in the flawed assumption that there is some kind of a natural andundefined human self and communication. So when the Locke, et al. hope to liberate peoplefrom "Suit speak" this is a noble aim, but it remains a misphrasing of the real situation. In lightof the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, Foucault and other postmodern readings, it is not possible to takethis statement at its face value – it would seem that people are indeed more believable when theyare comfortable and they adopt the personality they have cultivated over many years, rather than - 23 -
  24. 24. one forced to be adopted, especially when that forced personality is to represent an identity thatthey do not really understand, and much worse, that they and their audience do not in actualitybelieve. But make no mistake all identities, all personalities, are contrived and practised entities -some are merely more practised and collected than others; some are picked up almostosmotically, while others are sought out and assimilated consciously. What must really beunderstood is that upon entering any context a person will also enter a specific frame of mindand take on the views of a specific frame of reference, and act according to certain rules(Ronnlund, et al., 2005). Employees do not need to be liberated from these rules, for allinteractions have rules, they are simply different rules, and at times more or less relatable to aperson’s ‘native’ scenario. What is truly necessary is the understanding of a new set of rules,which are more compelling to these individuals and their interests, and equally to the externalstakeholders they are engaging with. These rules must emanate from the brand and its culture asthe driver of the business – which incidentally may be the reason many successful brands areoften driven by strong cultures emanating from strong leaders who are able to define the brandculture (Venture Republic, 2007).The power of sub-communication, social dynamics and memetics offer the opportunity to evadethe trap of inauthenticity, in part at least. So then, the key is not to get employees to act (allcommunication as defined in the previous paragraph is actually acting, but in this sense it isacting out an identity they do not believe or desire to enact), the key is to get the brand’semployees to genuinely believe in identity and to either consciously (because it is seductive andpowerful) or osmotically (because it is popular and the culture of the organisation unconsciouslypressurises them to) take it on. At the same time, planned communication must reflect and liveup to that developed identity and congruently merge those realities, making use of socialdynamics principles, techniques and gambits.In order to evade the trap of inauthenticity the key is thus simple, at least in concept: brand, butdo not appear to be branding. That is, brands should not prescribe themselves to consumers, butrather simply make themselves available (ostensibly as a manifestation of themselves takingaction upon some aspect of their identity) so as to ‘allow’ audiences the opportunity to ‘discover’them. It is envisioned that this approach would literally translate the brand into an activist groupin the minds of a specific group: how the brand conducts itself, the attitudes and beliefs it holds,these are those of the cause – the level of authenticity required is very high, and it is highlyadvisable that the cause and identity the business is purported to be is based upon a truereflection of their interests, lest they be accused of inauthenticity, damaging their reputation - 24 -
  25. 25. beyond any gains they might have achieved.The hypothesised success of this tactic is based on at least two related principles: peacocking(dealt with under Social proof under 5.1.1), and deep identity. Apart from the mere difference ofcommunication that sets the brand apart from the presumably ‘salesy’ communication of the restof the category (peacocking), the entity is perceived to have a ‘deep’ identity beyond the meresale of products (in effect, a motivation for the sale of products that inspires it to be who it is anddo what it does), capitalising upon the empathy and reciprocity generated between the individualand the brand as the individual conceivably perceives the brand no longer as an entity merelyperforming a function mechanically because it must, but as an entity that cares more about thatindividual than they need to (humans only ‘write to say “hi”’ to friends – it is a decidedlyauthentic and amicable gesture), or something a person similar to that individual cares about. 4.4 Contact in the right lightFor this reason it is beneficial to create the impression that the agenda of the organisation is notonly that of selling and commercial gain, but that they are actually doing what they are doingbecause they are authentically interested in being true to themselves, having a relationships andliving their values. Hence, when the organisation communicates with individuals using variousmedia it should not stem from a need on the part of the organisation to "find" and communicatewith these audiences, so as to turn a profit. No, rather it should be done because like any goodfriend who has values and cares about their friend, there is a desire to communicate, and to betogether, and share their lives together. The reason the brand approaches and opensconversations with new people is (ostensibly) never because of their need for business – it isalways a manifestation of their core values, their selves being reflected through action, whichoften involves such tangential contacts with other humans, and if their values coincide with thoseof the brand, or if they simply respect those of the organisation – which the organisation shouldnecessarily have crafted their identity to do so – then they might want to join the brand on itsquest; after all, it has status and power and a voice, and it can do things for them and with them,and in the process each entity will get to know each other and serve each other.This is not to say that all media contacts will be idyllic and Utopian – but rather to emphasisethat brand contacts occur, at least ostensibly, as manifestations of core values; that is, when anorganisation makes a selling offer it does so because it (ostensibly) believe that for its values tobe best realised it needs to sell a specific kind of product, manufactured and distributed in a - 25 -
  26. 26. specific manner, to a specific audience in a specific way; and this much should more-or-less besub-communicated to the audience. Google is an excellent example of a brand who lives andbreathes their values – engaging in a number of purportedly benevolent acts merely asmanifestations of their values and mission.Thus the need for the use of different media in different roles, achieving different goals – not allmedia are fruitful in making first contacts with consumers; not all media are useful asrelationship building platforms; not all are of service in the attempt to sell. Hence, it is crucial tounderstand the messages that the use of specific media give of a brand, its perception of itsaudience and the contact (of course, it is not impossible to make a good first contact with abillboard, for instance, but its difficult and not likely to foster good relationship; the brand wouldseem to have essentially telegraphed only interest in the audience for profitable purposes, and notidentity, and definitely not interaction – more on this under Social Violation in 5.1).Another important technique in creating brands that resonate deeply with audiences, and asmemes thus are more likely to be adopted on deeper levels is the power of humour, especiallythat of the self-depreciating variety (Locke, et al., 1999) – it reflects a number of positiveattributes, chief amongst which is confidence: confidence that they are, despite their occasionalshortfallings and other potential negative idiosyncrasies, a good and a positive organisation;confidence that their products are of quality even if there are mistakes from time to time;confidence that the company has strong values. Organisations, like individuals should accepttheir flaws and be willing to poke fun at them (See Frame Control under 6.2), even publicisethem if their existence is commonly acknowledged; if their flaws offend people they shouldapologise for them and make efforts to change – for them to act that their flaws do not exist is toinsult their audiences; for them to become defensive is to lose their audiences’ trust.Owing to the ability of memes promoting confidence, passion, ambition and persistence’ successin triumphing over blander attributes, by imbuing their hosts with effective competitiveadvantages over competing hosts these memes have come to represent ‘high value’. Othermemes that encourage or own these attributes as a part of their own identities (whose images areable to convey this to potential hosts) are far more likely to survive (Von Markovik, 2007:24).Drawing from the work of Tolle, Cook (2007a) – writing under the pseudonym ‘Tyler’ – writesthat self-esteem and ego are two opposing states existing in the mind of the individual; self-esteem is a naturally occurring state in human beings, that it is their ‘default’ emotional state:one of contentment and confidence. Ego, on the other hand is the sum of all the rational - 26 -
  27. 27. justifications and stories told internally attempting to rationalise sensations of confidence andcontentment: a superficial veneer for the inability to deal with inner woundedness, that peoplecan sense, and which repels them (hence the colloquialism, “there are too many egos in thisroom here today!”). He argues that only insecure people are easily offended, and cannot acceptrejection, feeling the need to justify themselves or attack others. Despite the high level ofabstraction involved in this portion of the discussion this would seem to be of great moment forthe brand, which traditionally has acted in ways that would cause an onlooker to believe ifhuman the brand would be an insecure egotistical person, discontent and being ‘bold’ (asopposed to the subtlety and certainty of confidence) attempting to overcompensate forinsecurities. In another post Cook (2007b) notes that when an externally dependent attributebecomes central to an internal identity, while potentially beneficial in the short term may cause aperson becomes “reaction-seeking” requiring the ongoing validation of that element, and in itsabsence experience a crisis of identity. It is possible that this is also true of brands, who inasserting their dominance over a category, attribute, skill, insight or group of people, may losesight of their broader identities becoming focussed upon that singular essence, and worse, in itsabsence lose their identities and credibility both internally and externally.One fear that may drive some brands to the use of external attributes as defining characteristicsof their identity is the fear that their identity alone is not sufficiently deep. After all, a brandcannot ‘live its values’ if it in fact has none. Locke (1997), citing Zen master Roshi, asserts thatcorporates need to “relax”: “to control your cow, give it a bigger pasture.” They should makeefforts to express themselves more organically and experiment with things, such as identities,images, and values – in short they should remember their origins of humanness, for it is throughthese origins that they are able to resonate with their audiences and thus spread. 4.5 Interaction escalationThe way wherein brands transition is equally important as the actual communication and mediachoices it makes. This text appropriates the term ‘transitioning’ from the ideas of venue-changing, time-bridging and mental state-changing used by members of seduction communities(cf. Von Markovik, 2007; Savoy, 2006). The general line of argument there followed is thatthrough the exercise of venue-changing and by making use of a number of highly contrastinghighly intense emotional states it is possible to create the illusion of a deep connection and thusdeep rapport over a short time period. The leap between media, which often includes a time-delay element (the ‘transition’) should not be harsh, providing the audience with too great of a - 27 -
  28. 28. difference in communication style and identity (if identity must be shifted over time becausefirst-contacts for whatever reason do not allow the brand to give the impression of themselvesthey would desire, this should be a gradual process); it should not be a process whereby thebrand directs and dictates to the audience to interact with them elsewhere and in other forms – todo so would both confuse and incense the time-starved and media-bombarded modern consumer.The transition should be a seductive process, luring its audience to a new medium at a newlocation at a new time (or any combination thereof), providing incentives, making known whythe brand itself will be there, and how it is congruent for its own identity to work out there in thatsetting. The term ‘calibration’ (Von Markovik, 2007:38) is used to describe the manner whereinpick-up artists dynamically alter communication strategies as they ‘elicit the values’ of the‘target’, and are able to respond to the challenges of dynamic communication scenarios withpolished and tested ‘material’ (interactive routines or stories) – in its application to branding thispaper interprets this to be the manner wherein the brand makes use of detailed insights into theaudience’s mental state and worldview as at that moment, and delivers communication thus‘calibrated’ to meet these requirements in the formats and timeframes and flow necessary.‘Micro-calibration’ refers to the manner wherein pick-up artists make use of a five-factorsimplification model of communication to dynamically interpret the ‘target’s’ communicationcues into easily actionable data, ensuring appropriate up-to-the-moment actions; in application tobranding this is interpreted to refer to the manner wherein technology (through elaborate andsophisticated databasing, and complicated algorithms interpreting this data through a web ofcommunication-recommendation engines) in the foreseeable future could allow brands todevelop up-to-the-moment interpretations of audience mental state changes. Calibration is aprocess pre-existing in the brand communications industry, although it could be argued that itsdynamism could be improved (and is likely to, given the necessity for brands to be relevant inconsumer’s highly connected and high-paced lives); while micro-calibration remains a pipedream awaiting sufficiently complicated data-capturing and interpretation software, andsufficient budgets to be realised.In terms of a practical process: the brand opens a conversation with an audience, demonstratesvalue, and strikes up a connection, etc. The brand then takes its audience and entices (or perhapscatches, if it has not yet established sufficient rapport to ‘lure’ the audience) them to engage witheither that same medium, in a different way (e.g. an advertisement leading into a press release) orat a different time (e.g. a series of linked advertisement), or with another medium. This iseffective in the ideal scenario owing to the fact that contact time is important with consumers,and ‘rapport acceleration’ can occur by maximising its impact by making use of synergistic - 28 -
  29. 29. media choices, and if sufficient rapport exists this can function as one of the first compliancetests performed by a brand, that is calling the consumer to a small action which will indicatewhether or not they are in rapport with the brand – if they fail it of course this is not a seriousblow to the brand, it only means that they have not yet built enough trust, and so should focus onbuilding more trust, and demonstrating more value. In the optimal scenario the brand wouldhypothetically want to structure opportunities for audiences to move with them to new media asrapidly as possible – although further research is required in investigating consumer perceptionsof time-bridging (it is hypothesised here that too short a time-bridge will damage rapport in someinstances, appearing mechanical) – and with as natural and organic an interaction escalationprocess as possible. For instance, a brand might know that a group of its consumers commutes towork daily at a specific time, and so advertises on a specific radio station during this time; thiscommercial message would be linked to a press advertisement in a publication the audiencesubscribes to, which might offer incentives for consumers to access an Internet site and/or textmessage or take part in other mobile interaction.Oftentimes one of the results of such a sequence of interactions may be that a consumer gives abrand their details. This paper hypothesises that this action in itself is of no significance, and thatsuch details are merely the ‘receipt of interaction’; if the interaction was not good, the details areas good as ‘wood’ – wasted paper – and thus will be the follow-up efforts of the brand (howoften do consumers forge details in order to pry around brand’s entry barriers particularly in theonline realm!). However, if the interaction occurred in a proper fashion, and succeeded increating solid rapport then the next interaction will occur on the terms of the brand, as theconsumer (ideally) seeks them out – the initial interaction is always on the terms of theconsumer, as the brand enters their reality, demonstrates value and generates rapport - now, thebrand will want them to meet the consumer on a slightly more neutral setting and preferably inan environment over which they are able to exercise some degree of control. It is here that thebranded message begins to differ more significantly from more organic memes, as the brand hasa level of control and adaptability in engineering the encounter and its own spread. If the brand isunable to simply ‘bounce’ its audience to a new medium (or a new type of interaction within themedium, sometimes it is undesirable to switch media, particularly if that medium is lending itselfto a successful interaction) at that moment, then the emphasis is on the functional need ofwanting to create a way for consumers to connect with it at a later time: the only reason brandsshould get details this early is in case something goes wrong with that encounter, and to confirmit – apart from this the brand will be risking receiving false details, and worse, violating theconsumer’s trust. Nonetheless details are occasionally a good way of continuing to build a - 29 -
  30. 30. connection and trust, but it is also very difficult, unless the brand is certain that their particularaudience is receptive to this type of interaction – and it is a high-pressure interaction, in a low-interest environment (regardless of medium).Continuing interaction escalation (drawing the consumer into ever deeper levels and ways ofinteracting with the brand) is important, allowing the consumer to become immersed in the worldof the brand and its realities, never imposing action upon them, rather allowing it to emergeorganically from the predisposed attitudes cultivated in the brand meme. Purchase is a naturalextension of an already fulfilling interaction (in terms of ‘true’ brand purchases, not functionalneeds in situations of relative ambivalence facilitated by the player with the greatest marketdominance (Hofmeyr & Rice, 2000:101) – and even repeat purchases, this paper hypothesises,should occur as a result of the consumer seeking to return to the brand and be immersed in it,continuing to use free samples, download and use widgets, take part in communication andcommunities, play games and know the brand story and its key people’s beginnings. Anythingless would seem to be a threat to credibility, as the brand ‘blows its cover’ by attracting attentionto its desire for purchases; no brand wants to be labelled a “greenwasher” or equivalent – brandsmust allow consumers to invest in them.Every escalation, no matter what it is, should always be based on consumer insight and anunderstanding of the present roles they are playing and the mental states they are in, leading thebrand to understand what they are ready for – a process this paper dubs ‘calibration’ – anotherterm appropriated from Von Markovik. Thus escalation is never about the brand, and following aspecific process rigidly, brands must develop complex webs of insights on consumers andtranslate these into algorithms (not processes, which is potentially an easy pitfall for brands tofall into, particularly in regards to technology) for determining appropriate media opportunitiesand messages, which ideally should be micro targeted down to individual levels (and naturallywhere this is impossible down to the smallest level the brand is able). Brands should not beafraid to take steps ‘back’ either – in fact, if Von Markovik (2007:37) is correct that peoplechoose what is not forced upon them and that which is slightly elusive, they should probablyoffer it, allowing the consumer to feel in control, giving messages such as, "hey so-and-so, wesee you arent using [some facility], are you sure you want it?" This paper hypothesises that thiswillingness to back off and walk away, and to respect them, ostensibly putting their interests firstis what will draw consumers to love a brand and give it their respect in reciprocation.Finally having transitioned and successfully time-bridged, now having consumers in a more - 30 -
  31. 31. neutral scenario – i.e. one where they have sought out the brand (the process is not linear, and thebrand might start here too, for instance off a web-search) – the brand continues to unveil a deepidentity organically, but more importantly should be hypersensitive to any return communicationfrom consumers, and should engage the power of ritual to sub-communicate purchase, for it is atthis stage that the brand is able to capitalise upon its dominance thus far (of course, they mightjust get the sale straight away without any of this, but that is the ‘fools mate’ of branding: it doesnot necessarily mean that the branding is any good, it only means that the brand struck it luckywith a pre-interested customer). The power of ritual is simple, basing its success from theprinciple of anchoring in Neuro-Linguistic Programming (that is, the linking of specific states,actions and experiences with specific cues, in a Pavlovian fashion), although its implementationsurely requires in-depth research, and it is simply this (inspired by Von Markovik, 2005): oddsare that a given consumer has bought something from an enterprise of similar nature to that ofthe brand; and with any purchase is an accompanying rhythm, pattern and set of actions taken, inan environment with a specific tone. This, alongside powerful recommendation engines (whoseease-of-use arguably contributes to ritual) accounts for the success of many online stores, as theytap into consumer’s ritualised experiences of online purchase, preconditioned by other brandssuch as Amazon.com. This also has implications across experience types: for instance Twitchell(2004:193) notes how museums have at times taken on the trappings and organisational stylesand structures of commerce in order to improve visitor experiences and curio sales, and howupmarket commercial entities have at times taken on the trappings of museums in creatingreverence and respect for goods, and a sense of lingering and sacredness of presence in theirstores. The understanding of the role of ritual, and its subsequent deliberate creation by brands ishighly important in brands’ ability to take advantage of positive social expectations and rules. 5. CONNECTING IN THE RIGHT WAY 5.1 Social violation theoryThe mere fact that a consumer has appeared to engage a message, and possibly even has engageda message in a particular way, as is in accordance with aforementioned theory is by no meansindicative of that message’s success or failure. Outside of changing the actual content and typeof message, there would appear to be little that brand communication professionals can do toimprove the success of their branded messages. Yet, owing to a history of preconditioning, andnecessary social programming, a strange phenomenon exists in linguistic cultures: ‘social rules’.A narcissistic and self-involved person might find that people will be [acting] interested in them - 31 -
  32. 32. for a while, and will engage in mutually beneficial interactions with them, will take useful thingsfrom them, some of which will validate and sometimes even help the distasteful individual; butthe reality remains that that individual has never truly connected with them. This is called SocialViolation theory: social violation theory is a theory is loosely based upon several other relatedtheories (cf. “Role congruity theory”, relating to gender roles and expectations, as presented byFarris, 2007; “Expectancy violations theory”, relating to the development of verbal and non-verbal expectations and interpretation of violations of these expectations, presented by Burgoon,Stern, & Dillman, 1995), and made practical to seduction by “Lovedrop” (2007) whomarticulates the notion that within in a given sociolect there are social norms at play, which can bediscovered through trial and error, and once known can be exploited in order to gain ‘highervalue’ by not making social errors, and conversely baiting competitors into doing so. This theoryis of particular moment to brand communication professionals, who frequently fail toacknowledge social norms and thus lower their own value – at a point, the violator’s valuebecomes sufficiently low that social groups with whom they are interacting will make activeattempts to remove them from the group and perform other violating actions themselves, whichare condoned owing to the fact that the violator deliberately and powerfully violated first. Thisexact scenario is played out verbatim on a daily basis when promotional staff approach strangers,when television advertisements intrude on ‘family-time’, when brands interrupt consumers butfail to understand their lives and their problems, and then fail to involve them in attempting tounderstand them, and when consumers try to resolve product issues only to be faced with furthertedious resolution systems.The opposite of social violation is charm; the truly charming put their egos and objectives on thebackburner (in a congruent arrangement with the need for authentic and independent identity andvalues, of course) and make a decided effort in being genuinely interested, understanding, askingquestions, and helping (Hand-Boniakowski, 2003). Counter-intuitively, it is this behaviour thatin fact lends power and control in the interaction to the ‘charmer’ (this paper posits that the‘holder of court’ in this way is the holder of control under Holding Court in 3.2.2).However if it were only so simple, the woes of brand communications would vanish. Alas, it isnot. At times it is necessary to violate social norms, occasionally to test and evolve approaches,but more often in order to generate sales – the task is not to remove this social violation entirely,but rather to minimise it, and to compensate for it where necessary. 5.1.1 Social proof - 32 -
  33. 33. The brand’s first violation typically occurs upon the opening of the initial dialogue with thewould-be consumer, as they beckon for attention, bursting into the already cluttered world of theconsumer with a (typically) non-urgent request. For one thing, people of modern Westernsocieties are socially conditioned to be suspicious of strangers, especially those with "noapparent reason" for talking to them – should a stranger merely approach asking questions theywill certainly appear blackguardly, unless the environment has already disarmed them to theirovertures (Von Markovik, 2007:76); otherwise you need to figure out a way to do that yourself.Worse, they may even brush strangers off for no reason other than that they have pre-categorisedthem. This is not a negative judgement, this is simply the social reality within which they exist,this is a simple necessity within their reality for efficient survival: when random beggarsapproach them and ask for money they may either give out of pure principle or turn them awaymindlessly. Both are preconditioned responses: it makes no difference that perhaps the beggar inquestion had the most beautiful story of need to tell; they were unable to negate their target’sprotection shields. It is most rare in all spheres of life that such shields are disarmed. Violationeffects can be minimised in several ways.First, it is significant if a brand is able to approach with an appropriate level of status and byharnessing the immense power of social proof and ‘peacocking’ (however, this strategy is almostimpossible to implement on initial communications campaigns with a typical product, on atypical budget if the consumer base is not already substantial). Brands should build status first,and then social proof, in that order: status by embodying what the target aspires to, or at the least,what they respect or appreciate, social proof by being the observed, not the observer. Followingthis the brand should open interaction non-threateningly, conveying their deep identity that hasbeen developed, and just be, without an (apparent) agenda. There is no quick fix in brandinganymore. Brands can no longer afford to go into interactions and sell in the first 30 seconds –partly because of social violation and partly owing to the poor frame control facilitated in thismode, (potentially the reason for the status of the thirty second television commercial as a dyingand sometimes dead creature). Brands need to be ‘themselves’ and authentically connect withindividuals, as individuals.Cialdini (2003:99) recounts research showing that despite both audiences’ and artist’s distastetowards canned laughter its practice remains widespread owing to the simple principle thataudiences nevertheless laugh longer and more often and rate material higher when that material,especially poor material, is dubbed with laugh tracks. Gaylord (2007) notes that forty percent of - 33 -
  34. 34. auctions on eBay sell for more than their "Buy it now" price (eBay is a digital auction website,and the “Buy it now” price facilitates the avoidance of the auction process, purchasing as onewould in a typical retail environment). When choosing between identical items, users tend to gofor the one with the most bids; auctioneers are also much more likely to get bidders when theydo not use secret opening prices. This is all a result of the principle Cialdini (2007:99) callsSocial Proof, which he defines as: “determin[ing] what is correct by finding out what otherpeople think is correct. The principle applies especially to the way we decide what constitutescorrect behavior. We view a behavior as correct in a given situation to the degree that we seeothers performing it.” A person is more likely to be perceived as funny, interesting and attractiveif other people who appear to be enjoying their company surround them.This principle can be observed in action in the world of branding by observing the mannerwherein the very incidence of a brand being popular leads to its ongoing and increasinglypopularity – arguably the most significant driver of the great success of the iPod, a product manyconsumers had little desire or use for but purchased nonetheless, as well as in the world of ready-to-drink alcoholic beverages in South Africa’s emerging market where Savanna premium cidergrows rampantly, both building from the perceptions, mindshare and connotations created bytheir social proof: “everyone else has one, it looks cool, it must be pretty good, I’ll try it”, whereit would otherwise possibly not even be in the consideration set of consumers.This principle’s positive (or indeed negative) impact can be augmented by another relatedprinciple, that of “peacocking”: Von Markovik (2007:24) describes it as the use of techniques toincrease noticeability, in his field largely clothing and accessories, but in the field of brandingthis relates to a far greater set of techniques in the developed area of breaking clutter and gettingattention. While this section will not go into great depth on these techniques themselves, it isimportant to realise that their effect is that of increasing social pressure on the brand, andenabling consumers to open dialogues (positive and negative) with the brand despite disinterestin the actual offering. This has no value taken alone, and is generally likely to decrease thebrand’s success alone, category norms exist because they are the ‘safe’ and trusted options;however, once the interaction has been opened the brand is then able to demonstrate congruencewith its image, which is a definite demonstration of higher value – Von Markovik (2007:25)asserts: The congruence is the critical point. A man with a top hat and a feather boa, with two women on his arms and surrounded by laughing friends looks like the man. Everyone in the room will notice him and women will whisper to one another that they want to be introduced to him. But the same - 34 -
  35. 35. man sitting by himself in a corner could end looking like a social reject.Similarly, the Savanna brand with its oddly shaped and slightly dysfunctional packaging mightbe seen as interesting but undesirable were it not popular, yet owing to its popularity itspackaging lends it an additional differentiation and a chic appeal.The application of social proof extends even to manner wherein media is utilised by brands.Schreuder (2007) relates that consumers engage in both passive and active media consumption,which relates to the concepts of userly and makerly media, but from the perspective of theconsumer not of the message and that brands need to understand how their consumers areinteracting with their messages and media. In the case of more passive media consumptionSchreuder (ibid) implies that social proof (brand building) are its primary function – consumersare not actively engaging with the medium, but consciously or unconsciously take note of itsmessage, and this builds the brand socially (consumers tend to see brands able to afford massmedia advertising as ‘big brands’ – a form of social proof) as the consumer recalls havingengaged with the brand at later stage, but not actively. 5.1.2 CalibrationSecond, brands can minimise violation by engaging in sophisticated calibration techniques – ifthe message content and type of interaction (for instance being userly or makerly, and whatmode thereof), message timing and channel planning are sufficiently well calibrated there is avery high chance of at least opening an interaction, from which point ‘damage control’ cancommence and recover the brand by both demonstrating a developed identity, as well as bydiverting attention by symbolically compensating the audience and offering value (note: thispaper recommends implicit value demonstrations [i.e. captivating and entertaining interactionand authentically helpful and unrelated benefits/opportunities to the audience], as explicit valuedemonstrations [promotions] may dilute the brand by appearing to be ‘buying’ the attention ofthe consumer, and will most likely alert the consumer that the brand does not have a developeddeep identity). This should not be confused as saying that brands should understand but followcategory norms: category norms and social rules and distinct. Category norms refers to themanner wherein the bulk of brands in a given category tend to engage with consumers; socialrules however refers to what is and is not acceptable from a consumer perspective in regards tointeraction (whether that be with a brand or with another human – although these will likely beslightly different, further research is required on this point). Enslin (2003) avers: “the - 35 -
  36. 36. unconventional and unexpected point of planned brand contact can break through commercialclutter barriers to impact on consumers and communicate or reinforce the single-mindedpositioning of the brand.” It is only by understanding the rules governing social violation thatbrand planners are able to intelligently design such alternative brand contacts, in a sustainableway. It is suggested that those that follow both category norms and social rules become“wallpaper”, while those break both category and social rules experience temporary success, butsoon are rejected and are unable to make lasting impacts; hence it is the carefully crafted brandthat succeeds in following social rules, yet breaking category norms that is able to ensure foritself a path into the future – of course, this requires ever-increasing consumer and environmentinsights as well as ongoing innovation in order to lead to its desired outcomes. 5.1.3 PermissionThird, brands can take a longer-term view to marketing, taking on what Godin (1999) calls“Permission Marketing”, making the brand available to the consumer and allowing the consumerto seek it out as they have need, giving the brand permission to sell to them; and by marketingthrough social networks as networks recommend the brand amongst themselves. 5.1.4 Social rolesFourth, brands can (with their detailed insights of the audience gleaned in calibration)extrapolate the particular social role being played (or aspiring to be played) by the audience inthat moment, and extrapolate from it all of its caveats and implications, thus possessing a socialnorms frame to hold the consumer to (Cialdini, 2003:92), and play from these rules, politely andhumorously insinuating that they aren’t ‘playing fair’ if they break them – these rules do notneed to be logical, or even connected, what is important is that the consumer believes themimplicitly and responds to them. For instance assume a person frequenting a prestigiousrestaurant – such a person might not follow particularly more high-culture customs or be more‘cultured’ than any other person, yet given the context of polished wine glasses, dim lighting,expensive linens and well-dressed waitrons, such a customer is far more likely to take on a‘cultured’ role and act and think according to those norms of wealth and high culture. Hence, awaitron might further this ‘cultured’ role by playing to it in speech and in action – when the timefor ordering food arrives the customer is far more likely to continue to think, feel and act interms of the role being played, that is wealth and high culture; the creation of this experience canbe utilised by the savvy waitron in order to upsell customers, offering the more expensive and - 36 -

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