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December 23, 2011, 5:10 am UTC
Like art, brand messaging is all about creating conflict in the minds of the beholder but one need to understand it to master it.
All art is conflict. There has never been a story, novel, musical composition, painting, cinema or any other work of art that does not have inherent conflict within or does not arouse conflict in the minds of the beholders. A blank canvas or white screen or silences do not make art. Yet, while we understand the role of conflict in the arts, when it comes to the field of brand communications, be it advertising or marketing, we do not seem to realize its importance.
If you look at it closely, conflict is also an integral part of a good brand message. All awarded ads have conflict, either between its characters or in the story. The case is the same with any other branding and marketing concepts. Like art, all brand messaging is also about conflict.
It is however important to understand what exactly one means by ‘conflict’ in brand messaging. To put it simply, conflict in a brand message is about changing the equilibrium of the recipient so that his or her state before and after the message is not the same.
The foremost thing to understand is that when we talk of conflict, we’re not talking of conflict in message. The brand message that one wants to give out has to be crystal clear for it to have any chance at success. Conflict is what is created in the minds of the consumer who is taking in the brand message.
A desire, a wish, a need and an emotion of fear, pain, anger or grief, are all conflicts that are created in the minds of a consumer with intelligent brand messages.
Thus before a woman sees a brand message for a beauty cream, that state is a state of equilibrium. But the moment she sees an ad about a woman who has flawless skin because she has applied a particular cream, this takes her away from her equilibrium into the state of desire to have such clear skin herself. This, in turn, leads her to buy that product. Without the removal of the initial state of equilibrium and creating the ‘conflict’ which comes out as desire in this case, the message will not translate to sales for the brand.
Once upon a time, ads were more like announcements. They merely stated the existence of a new product and a consumer was supposed to buy the product after reading that. Those were the times of less media clutter and very few messages. Thus, these ads worked. Today, however, things have changed. Unless you shake a consumer out of his equilibrium, you don’t have a shot at success.
One thus need to approach a brand messaging with the awareness that at the basic level the message is trying to shake a person out of his equilibrium and inject conflict. Once aware, focus should be on creating rather than random, but well calculated and intended conflict in the consumers’ minds. Once this is clear, one can choose the best possible means and vehicle for its delivery.
In the end, do remember that conflicts in brand messages work because there is no conflict in the minds of the creators. So be clear about your message, and go for the ‘conflict’.
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