Wednesday, April 02, 2008

let's just be friends

Recently, a lot my thinking and reading has been pointing to similar things. Not being one to ignore coincidences, I ummed and arred for a few minutes and out popped a thought. Here it is, from the beginning:

In January, I posted some thoughts on brands acting as accessories, rather than trying to be the centre of people's worlds. In March, Adrian wrote a great post on subtlety, arguing that we are "moving from a period of big, dramatic statements towards an era of modulated or qualified statements."
At a similar time, I whittled down everything you might come into contact with into eight categories, four of them being positive. Those four were inspiring, pleasurable, useful and interesting. And it's clear to me that it is the latter two that the marketing industries are more and more keen on as we move further from simple 'engagement'.

While all this was going on, I had been thinking a fair bit about the life cycle of memes (I refer to Richard Dawkin's definition of a meme) and what happens when that cycle is drastically condensed. I.e. Bands that are born, loved and forgotten in a matter of days. Throw attention scarcity into the mix and you have quite a cocktail, but with closely related ingredients.

I like to reduce all communication down to a fundamental human level. When I did this for the above, I realised that this underlying shift can be assimilated to a change from seduction to friendship.

If you try to be the love of someone's life in a world with many options, you risk becoming a one-night stand. If you offer them friendship you have a much better chance of still being important to them in years to come.

I see this same transition everywhere. Utility instead of entertainment; services instead of big messages; companionship instead of promises; interest instead of shock.

Like a song that's too catchy too soon, do brands risk flopping when they try to be loved? Perhaps they'll come to the realisation that for all the drunken one-night-stands they can muster, close friends often turn out to be the best lovers of all.

That last line was awful, but for the life of me I can't bring myself to delete it...



Anonymous Aaron said...

Nice post Andy. Utility seems to be the watchword these days. And with good reason I'd say. If brands stopped thinking so hard about branding, and just concentrated on doing the little things well everything would turn out great. But then we'd probably be out of a job ;)

9:23 am  
Blogger lauren said...

brilliant post andy. i like the idea about friendship with an idea. it means that it's a two-way street. and if your friendship doesn't work, you try a little harder. and then if it still doesn't work, then you let it be.

1:05 pm  
Blogger Andy Whitlock said...

amen. common sense will prevail.

3:26 pm  

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