Silence of the Brand Associates

September 22, 2011 § Leave a comment

In the Mission for a walk this afternoon I bought fava beans. I have never cooked fava beans, so I don’t know what’s happening later. I bought them for the size of their pods. I thought at first they might be Fukushima beans. Or Chernobyl beans. I purchased an artichoke, also. It too was huge, but I believe this on account of it being from California, where we do horticulture on steroids. As we do our governors. Some.

It was in Silence of the Lambs that I acquired a taste for fava beans. Not, however, for the beans but for how they sounded. Sounded when spoken of. Fava beans will forever be the only thing between Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster, for me. And a pane of reinforced, shock-proof glass.

Fava beans for the eating. Fava beans for the admiring. Fava beans — substitute in sound and word for a lovely, criminal, and chiantiaccompanied meal of grotesque intellectual satisfaction. You can heard the word stutter on the teeth. A chatter shared by mentor and initiate alike.

The Silence of the Lambs is a study in two kinds of transformation and transgression. Lechter’s, the noble savagery, is consumptive. Lechter becomes Other by consuming other. Ingesting, internalizing, embodying Other. The transformative act of eating — food for the soul.

Buffalo Bill, on the other hand, becomes other by dressing in the other. Adorning, externalizing, inhabiting the Other. The transformative act of posing — beauty skin deep.

Two kinds of serial killing, two different serial strategies. One internalized: adopted. One externalized: faked. Soul. Appearance.

You get the difference. Now what do these have to do with brand associates?

Brands are constructed identities. They are represented symbolically and linguistically. Through messaging and imagery. Using media for their circulation, and attached to products and services in order to stand for something else (an idea).

But brands to brands, and brands to consumers, are not one and the same. Like the two series above, the serial strategies of brands are in constrast to the serial strategies of consumers.

The brand wants to see itself reflected in the populace. See itself in circulation. Propagated, mentioned, shown, cited. In short: multiplied.

The consumer, wants to identify with and through the brand. See him/herself in the brand identity. Make it his or her own. Personalize it, admire it, be like it. In short: individuated.

The brand seeks to reach the consumer with branding campaigns. The consumer wants to identify the brand by making it his or her own.

The brand manager talks at all consumers, in one consistent brand voice. The consumer talks to friends, with his or her own unique personality.

The brand wants to see the same, multiplied. The consumer wants the unique, singularized.

The two are different series — two sides of a coin, or image. One, expressed. The other impersonated.

This is the challenge of brand advocacy online. One service or site, strategy or campaign, cannot serve the two series unless it is bivocal. Unless it permits two types of interaction, identity, and discourse. And acknowledges the needs and interests of each to speak in its own language, and form. Using, if you will, one currency two represent two different types of value.

(This was a follow up to Challenges of Social Commerce.)

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