“I do not know with what weapons…
…World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones” - Albert Einstein said once. Well, I do not know what number this office war is, but the weapon is well known, albeit surprising. At the end of this summer Post-it® wars caught up the attention of media, even the serious ones, like CNN. Their first-hand report from the war zone you can check up on the following link: http://business.blogs.cnn.com/2011/09/28/post-it-note-wars-rage-in-paris/ Much of this publicity is due to the fact, that even white collar workers have a creativity streak, which may result in the unexpected. Well, I watched these battles with both amusement and admiration. They brought back one of “the classics” to my memory. No, I don’t mean Sun Tzu or Clausewitz’s seminal works on war. Something written only half a decade before, Martin Lindstrom’s “BRAND sense”. It contains a rich pool of ideas and tools, which prove themselves useful in the field of branding. But above all, the author deals with the concept of holistic branding inspired by the system of religion. One of the tools embedded in the religious systems to spread the belief and cultivate the practice is a ritual. The author calls to the brand owners for making the better use of a ritual in terms of branding, too. However, he also states the difficulty of doing it. To prove his point in some sense, we find a few examples of brand exploiting the power of ritual and some practical instruction on this subject in the mentioned book. Still one may try to make use of a ritual to enrich the brand identity. The strongest rituals are quite directly connected with the brand usage, created by the users (rather than by the marketers), giving them an emotional reward and a sharing experience (which often go together at best). So, the smart approach a marketer may take is to have open eyes and an open mind to spot “material” for ritual practices – a kind of activity that may become symbolic in expressing outwardly the brand philosophy/ driving belief or principle/ key value or benefit, acknowledge, even enhance an important moment in a brand user’s life or offer some common purpose uniting community of brand users and give them the feel of instant bonding with each other. Secondly, it is key for a marketer to think how to promote or, at least, support this activity so to maintain them over time. Coming back to the Post-it® wars… Are they the brand ritual? Well, not necessarily. But they are “the material” that may be closely examined for the purpose of becoming one… (Though 3M stated they do not want to interfere with the spontaneous movement because it should remain spontaneous – you can read more on their response to it on: http://www.lesinrocks.com/actualite/actu-article/t/69731/date/2011-09-06/article/post-it-war-lentreprise-3m-a-prefere-ne-pas-recuperer-le-mouvement/) Post-it® wars are strongly connected with the brand usage. They were created and hitchhiked further by the brand users. They express what the brand is all about: simplicity and cleverness of means, inventiveness, communication and collaboration with others. They have enormous power to focus the group energy and bond people together within the companies taking part in this informal competition. The role of supporting and promoting the activity that 3M could have been taken if it was interested in is being done by one of the competing companies (according to the above mentioned article in “Les Inrocks”). The company has created http://www.postitwar.com/ site and Facebook fanpage where one can post their own creations and watch the war develop. The question is whether it will be enough to maintain its meaning over time… But as Albert Einstein also said: “anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new”. Still it is worthwhile for a marketer to consider a ritual as an element enriching the brand identity and gratifying the user.
Author : Małgorzata Starczewska
Date : 19-10-11
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