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Intangible Value when attained, has amazing power

Bottled water has it? How can bottled water be more costly than the same volume of high octane fuel? Luxury Brands claim to have it. But we have other more interesting examples.....

Take a moment to consider the two items of jewelry below. One unique, hand-crafted and made of 24 carat gold, the other a replica made of iron with a simple inscription. Which of these is more valuable?

Which, had it been worn to a ball in any decade of the 19th century would have bestowed status and esteem and which would have labelled the wearer vulgar?

There are no doctors in Harley street?
Worth more than its weight in Gold?

Is it all a Game?

The answer lies in the badge or symbolic value, a purely perceptional and artificial construct, but powerful, and daily we see its impact on a society plagued by conspicuous consumption. Join me in wondering "why do people, HAVE to buy things they don't need, with money they don't have (school fees paid yet?), to try and impress people they don't even know?"

I would suggest reading a little further on Intrinsic vs Extrinsic Motivators, which is a key topic within the psychology of Gamification. Would you pay your daughter or son to learn how to read? Here is an introduction to this fascinating subject Back to vulgarity and class.... Between 1813 and 1815 the Prussian royal family, at the behest of Friedrich Wilhelm III, urged all citizens to contribute their gold and silver jewelry towards funding the war effort against Napoleon during the War of Liberation. In exchange the people were given iron replica jewelry, often with the inscription Gold gab ich für Eisen (I gave gold for iron), or Für das Wohl des Vaterlands (For the welfare of our fatherland). For decades after this, the highest status jewelry one could wear in Germany was not that made of gold or diamonds. Such trivial and banal materialism could not replace value embedded in the nobility of self-sacrifice, duty and patriotism, as reflected by the iron jewelry.

In a similar vein, it is well documented that of those reading this and getting a headache, the majority of those headaches could very effectively be dealt with by taking a lactose pill, otherwise called a placebo whose therapeutic quality is purely reliant on our perception of it.

Problems and their Solutions

Nowadays, many of the world’s problems are seen as problems of reality alone, when in fact, if we understand that value has a component of intangibility, the major component of the problem is that of perception. We should acknowledge the following:

  • Things and people are not so much what they are, but what we think they are.
  • Things are what we compare them to, context and framing are everything.
  • We have discredited psychology and discounted its value to our detriment.
  • Yet, often the most effective solution includes a focus and understanding of psychology.

If you can, you should google how Mustafa Ataturk and Nicolas Sarkozy succeeded and failed in dealing with their secular goals (Kemalism vs. Socialism) and women’s veils, or how The Royal Mail and La Poste (French mail service), went about dealing with complaints on process issues and slow mail delivery, in very different manners, one near disaster the other with great success.

As a last step, advertisers and PR campaigners make their money by exploiting our cognitive dissonance. They seek to understand a brand's emotional truth. What does it take for this strangeness to manifest itself? What would it take for your brand to be as cool as that of Harley Davidson, the free advertising space on someone's chest is not a bad result, but what of the counter-culture wal-mart statement? Do you promote your own brand, and in how many ways? What other brand's qualities do you aspire to emulate? Is your branding consistent with your strategy and operational delivery? How does the culture of your organisation reflect the values of your brand?

Only an emotional connection, with some resonance, can engender such loyalty.

what would it take?
what would it take?
So who is paying to promote your brand?
Losing control of your Brand?

There are things about which we should now ponder. These things should not only concern your business, but everything about how American presidents get electoral support, why some men insist on only one type of beer (but would fail a blind tasting test!), indeed how we all make decisions?

  • What of your personal brand - is it worth anything, does it stand out from the rest? Is there resonance or dissonance between your various persona? 
  • How will you protect your brand?
  • Who is paying to promote your brand?
  • Emotional connections are required to engender loyalty, but what are they, what should they be?
  • Now can you answer why GDP is such a poor reflection of a nation's wealth. What happens when 10 citizens earn 100k in a year, instead of a single citizen earning a million?