Just a quick thought this morning.
Liberal democracy is designed to create the good we call freedom. It attempts to balance two things to achieve this end: respect for and tolerance of diversity AND a common and ultimate source of authority. One of the especially neat and elegant design tricks of liberal democracy is the concentration of power in a single authority, while still making the authority of that power the product of a collective and conditional will (consent of the governed).
OK, cool, so good for democracy. What’s this got to do with brands? Well, I’d argue that brands need to work out a similar problem. I’ll call this, “the problem of having to be singular and plural at the same time”: the need for an identity that can accommodate and satisfy many different tastes, preferences and needs. Why do brands have to work this out? The answer is that some don’t, and many don’t want to or try. These brands win in their marketplace by dominating. Domination doesn’t require respect for, tolerance of or accommodation, just superior firepower.
Too many brands and branding efforts are a hedge against inferior products and services, which substitute an experience of quality, luxury, competence for the thing itself. And when those tactics are paired with the domination (superior firepower) market strategy, then brands behave badly.
If the good that democracy is designed to create is called freedom, what is the good that brands should be designed to create?