Our minds on media.

Musings on the effects of media on cognition.

In Response to “The B Word”

Peter Flaschner recently wrote an entry on his blog Almost Cool. In it he discussess how Jeff Hawkins concept of a memory model (from “On Intelligence“) could be used to discuss brands. Yes. But when he suggests that a map of a brand were possible I pointed out the following… I agree with the concept of brand as memory model but I don’t think that it generalizes too well. In your context a brand is a type of meme (defined here [http://banapana.troped.com/archives/2005/02/momentary_test.html] and here [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meme]). In short, a meme is what Hawkins talk about as a memory model (somewhat). But the thing that I think makes generalizing brands difficult is that memes are tied to perceptions and perceptions are entirely individualistic. Memes can be constructed of hierarchies of other memes and perceptions. One person may associate a good feeling with a brand image (a logo) but not have any other experience with the brand (never bought anything from them).

My meme for BMW is good because I like the BMW films and the cars always look good and a friend of mine had one and it was a good car, etc. I call these hierarchies of memes memetic compression. Eventually all of my experiences with BMW compress into the concept of BMW. Any negative experience is going to get tied into that meme as well. So, if every time I call the support line I have to wait for thirty minutes before talking to anyone that experience gets tied to the brand through memetic compression. Over time, two individuals could easily see the same brand as slow or speedy, depending on their personal perceptions as well as perceptions gained from media.

Companies can try to drive the experience of the consumer but ultimately (and ironically I think) their brand is reliant on actual experience which in short means: be a good company and you will have a good brand. The reverse is very difficult to obtain.

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