Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Imagine no belonging

I had a provocative conversation with the COO of a large PR company here in Vancouver. He read the Biodegredable Branding manifesto. He asked, what about the need for belonging?


The answer is that belonging has to be more deeply realized as an expediency. We belong to little league, then we don't. We are a Lulu Lemon user, then we aren't. The big brands, from the Catholic Church, to Uncle Sam, to GM, have always been pecking at us with messaging that has taken a piece of us. They can't do this now, going forward, if they want to succeed.

Ephemeralization, in a sped up world, has cracked fundamental belonging. No-one born today will be a lifelong Mason, or Democrat, or anything else, come to think of it.

The excitement of social media can boil down to the excitement of re-living how to be a child again. We don't; can't belong in a concrete sense. Belonging, even the notion of belonging to a particular community, is temporary, an expediency. Ultimately, there is no community or state to belong to, and a sped up world rips the covers off of cocoon of belonging at increasingly regular intervals.

The critical path is managing temporary but meaningful association without excessive attachment. Crack this, and a deeper sense of belonging unfolds.

If we try, we can imagine unbelonging. And practicing this, and practicing this in the branding profession, is a next, difficult step.

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