Keep your ENEMIES closer


Good stories always need a bad guy. A hero’s journey without an antagonist is a walk in the park.


The same’s true for the most prolific writers in marketing and advertising. Mark Ritson has his sights set on the untrained, George Tannenbaum the global networks, Bob Hoffman the fraudsters, Dave Trott the pretentious.


Maybe I need to find a foe.


There’s plenty about the Brandlands that winds me up.


The tribes.


People who treat creativity as a commodity.


Those who over-sell the science.


Shallow-enders.


Purpose pretenders.


So I have my pain points.


And as Robert McKee laid down in his book ‘Story’, “nothing moves forward in a story except through conflict”.


But he also said protagonists should face conflict on three different levels, which I always shorthand as ‘Inner - Inter - Extra’.


I wonder if my enemy might be an inner demon.


Certain things around brands I feel certain about.


Brand choices are driven by people’s deeper needs.


Brands have to make an emotional connection.


All brands need a positioning.


Insights need tension.


Be noticed, be remembered.


But I still seem to be in a state of permanent uncertainty.


Like, are brand choices actually little more than habit?


Does ‘emotional connection’ always sound too much like blind devotion?


And where’s the hard evidence to support my soft beliefs?


Maybe Byron Sharp is right. Now there’s someone who knows his enemy. I’ve read him dismiss some brand consultants as ‘looney street corner preachers’.


Even the very reasonable Tom Roach describes the idea of brands having deeper meanings as “voodoo”.


I suppose this would all make my nemesis the fear of getting lost. I have Marketing Mazeophobia.


But, you know, uncertainty has its advantages, like being in an equally permanent state of curiosity. Burning curiosity.


And it does feel like I’m on my own little quest here. Wandering off each time to see if I end up back where I started or somewhere different.


So come on, Uncertainty.


Come out, come out, wherever you are.

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by RICHARD BROWN

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