Does branding transcend randomness?


Randomness is all around us, it’s everywhere, and we don’t understand it well enough, but do effective brands provide focus to overcome some of the uncertainty?

We don’t understand randomness well enough

There is no doubt as individuals we are aware of randomness, but we don’t really understand it well enough, and the same could be said for most marketers. For years our misconceptions of success, effectiveness and outcome have been clouded by a lack of understanding probability. We all use our limited knowledge, our experience and intuition to filter masses of information and extract some insight. But intuition is certainly not the best tool to use to make decisions, especially when information is imperfect or incomplete, which it often is. There are better more sophisticated tools to use, tools that require more rigour, more expertise and more understanding. A combination of tools from mathematics, traditional sciences, cognitive psychology, behavioural economics and neurosciences. These tools are not always part of the marketing tool-kit, but they should be. Arguably, these are perhaps the most valuable tools for brand engineers who have to make critical decisions, often with incomplete data, directly affecting prospects of an organisation.

“To swim against the current of human intuition is a difficult task….the first step is to realise that success or failure sometimes arises neither from great skill nor from great incompetence but from as the economist Arman Alchian wrote, “fortuitous circumstances”. Random processes are fundamental in nature and are ubiquitous in our everyday lives, yet most people do not understand them or think much about them” Leonard Mlodinow, The Drunkard’s Walk


How effective brands overcome uncertainty

Most great marketing organisations know that filters that are applied to make effective decision are critical. The key question is: can effective brands transcend randomness? Can they provide an anchor in an ocean of uncertainty? Perhaps they can. Well engineered brands will have used many of the tools necessary to manage uncertainty, integrating traditional sciences, psychology and other disciplines to rationalise decision making within their organisations. They will have used the same tools to develop perceptions, connections, conversations and dialogue with their customers and prospects. This rigour helps to maintain brand presence and profile over time, it is an ‘engineering mindset’, continuously developing propositions and positioning based on rational quantifiable process. Process, which brings together a cocktail of sciences and systems thinking.

Unfortunately this is not always the case and many less capable marketing organisations have simply not made the investment required to eliminate ‘intuition bias’ and understand randomness to the extent they should. They are likely to be adversely affected by randomness, suffering from impacts, highs and lows that will remain inexplicable. In a world where brand and visibility are so important, where investment and resource are scarce, few things should be left to chance. Or at least we should be making investments that manage chance more effectively. We know ‘brand building’ is an strategic marketing discipline, something that requires investment in the right people and the right tools. Not something to be outsourced, but a differentiating capability that can help transcend chance and randomness in increasingly complex markets.

We recommend you read The Drunkards Walk by Leonard Mlodinow, – essential reading for all  marketers, it will dispel the myths and misconceptions we all have about chance and randomness

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