Frank Bruni had an important op-ed in yesterday's "New York Times." You can read it here. The article was called "The Water Cooler Runs Dry," and it was about the ability we all have to "customize [our diets] of entertainment and information." Bruni asks "has the personal niche supplanted the public square?"
In other words, what will become of us when as a people and a nation, we no longer have a "common core." He points out that in the mid-1970s, "All in the Family" was the top-rated TV show and in a nation of 215 million, attracted 50-million viewers. In 2013, NCIS was the top-rated show and attracted 22-million viewers out of a national population of 318 million.
Roughly 50 years after the hippies said, "Do your own thing," everyone is watching their own thing.
Bruni goes on to quote a Princeton University professor who calls our current age "the Age of Fracture." The professor goes on to say "There's enormous weight given to specialized knowledge. It leaves an absence of connective tissue..."
I think there's two ways we in advertising can exist in the Age of Fracture.
The wrong way is to play into it. To have thousands of small messages that allow consumers to form their own customized opinions about a brand.
The second way, the way I believe in, is to define your brand as you wish masses of people to see it. Be imperial and imperious.
It's like high school, really.
There were some kids that changed who they were depending on who they were with.
You know those kids. Momentarily popular, but eventually found out to be asses.
Other kids, fewer, stuck to their guns. They stayed true to themselves.
They found a core of long-lasting friends.
They never shape-shifted to be all things to all to all people.
They presented one image to the mass.
Take it or leave it.
I think brands that mutate, that fracture their core in being and/or messaging are hurting themselves. A solid true spine is what makes a brand enduring and strong.
And as we grow more atomized, this will become more important.