Dialectical Thinking in Branding Strategy

Dialectical Thinking in Branding Strategy
Branding Strategy

“To brand or not to brand, that is the question.”

It’s a rather ingenious tagline from Sasha Strauss.

The answer is neither easy nor straightforward. It is altogether complicated by the very thing which makes it simple, and yet simplifying the process by which one comes to an answer can only leave one dissatisfied for lack of practical experience in having wrestled with the matter. Thus, we have a paradox. Or do we?

When we apply dialectical thinking we are able to see that neither of these choices – when taken to extreme – would lead to a workable result. Dialectics tells us that in its absolute form, an extreme thing ultimately becomes its opposite thing. In the case of deciding to brand or not to brand, its feasible that a business could go from a place of self-determined omnipotence while unwittingly projecting an arcane nature as a result of overshooting and sadly – sometimes even embarrassingly – missing the mark altogether.

The other aspect of taking a dialectical approach in this seemingly paradoxical problem is that instead of talking about something of a static nature, we proceed to look at things like processes and change. Hold onto something too tightly so that it’s immovable and the only thing you’re likely to hold is an illusion. Since the first tenet of dialectical thinking emphasizes fluidity and movement of ideas, we automatically take out the static variable which causes so many brands to fail: the rigid view that one should be bound to one’s brand message. By creating a brand message and excluding its opposite, we really will include it because the only values which will be truly stable and coherent are those which include opposition rather than excluding it. Therefore, by focusing on the process by which one serves customers instead of one specific solution, the brand has now made room for a lifetime of service and opened the door to endless opportunities.   

Some say that dialectics is not for everyday life – and that it has to do with ‘ideas of the horizon’ where we are dealing with concepts that are at the very limits of human thought. For everyday life, they say, formal logic is good enough. I think formal logic uses concepts which are simply too limiting in light of our ever-changing digital world where technologies are outdated by the time they are published. Furthermore, dialectical thinking lays a foundation for growth. In this new Social Media era where consumers are in control, we must take a dialectical approach to our branding strategy and to the way we serve in our companies as well. We owe it to ourselves, our customers, and to our communities in which we live to remain open to the ‘ideas of the horizon.’