Brand Shock

I committed the ultimate heresy in 2008 when I challenged the belief systems of Christianity in my book, ‘Rebranding Jesus’.

But it had to be done. In an increasingly divided, secular society the church had to reorient itself to the challenges it faced to make itself relevant again. The results, I think, speak for themselves.

The same is true in wider commercial circles now with the increasing power of social media.

Organisations that cling to static branding values have been paralyzed by the dynamic intercourse of online engagement. Clinging to outmoded marketing paradigms can diminish the value of assets that once were core to the proposition.

Perception is not fixed. With multiple media touchpoints, brand values are virtual. They represent the essence rather than being the essence themselves. This is something we are all comfortable with viewing moving pictures, where the retina retains an image for an instant after it was actually seen.

In a branding context, we strive to foster a consistent perception based on a sequence of interactions across the engagement spectrum. Maybe you have already experienced this, for instance when watching a master execute the three-card trick. She may have moved temporarily, but for you the Queen will remain in the middle.

“How can shock enhance a brand?” a sceptical marketing vice president asked me in Palo Alto recently.

It’s kind of like watching a scary movie. The audience needs to identify with your characters. The mood of the music must change. And when you supply the jolt, they are more deeply engaged and relieved that the bad stuff has happened to someone else and not them.

If the product or proposition has entropied, administering a short, sharp shock can crystalize market perceptions and revive its competitive edge, just like like 100 volts of CRP.

Believe it. The readers of ‘Rebranding Jesus’ did.


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