If you believe as I do in the seminal power of semiotics--that beyond words having meaning, signs and symbols have meaning too.
So an agency that says, for instance, "we're all about creative," and then decimates its creative staff, or leaves them penned in long-rows like un-free-range chickens, or has them working for six years without raises is semiotically dishonest. Or an agency that says, "diversity is everything," and then fails to materially improve diversity, fails to provide training, and fails to provide regular progress reports is saying the right things, but they're semiotically lying.
Many years ago--New York's monument for the ages--Penn Station--was brutally torn down. Watch the short video above and shed a tear for what was.
Vincent Sculley, the Yale architectural historian said this about the Vandal's act: "One entered the city like a god; one scuttles in now like a rat."
That's a statement about semiotics.
It's about how a couple of brands--in this case the Metropolitan Transit Authority, the States of New York and New Jersey, and the Pennsylvania Rail Road (who owned the station and the land) saw their customers.
Are they gods?
Or are they rats?
I'm doing some work now--and trying to do more--on what my business partner calls "Brand Dissonance." The vast gap between saying and doing. The "we're spending $50 million to tell you we're spending the $1 million on going carbon-free." Or just the nasty, shrill and shoddy way of speaking so many brands use.
But that might be pretty complicated for a dopey blog.
We might be better off being more bluntly antipodal.
Are your people rats? Or gods?
Are they users? Or humans?
Are they buckets, targets, markets, shares of wallet?
Or your mom and dad?