The un-purple cow

It used to be that building a great brand came down to creating a brilliant product – a product so brilliant that people who saw it or heard about it naturally wanted to buy it – and tell everyone else about it.

Now, millennial marketers have turned that basic principle on its head. Today marketing is equated with “content”.

It’s as if we’ve convinced ourselves that if we say enough nice things about our brand everyone else will a) find us and b) believe us.

The mantra is “the more content, the merrier.”

However, the truth is, if you brand was so wonderful, you wouldn’t need to say much about it at all. People would seek you out – you you would not have to trick them into reading your 500 word humble-brag article.

Content marketing is the business version of the selfie. It’s a little gross and distasteful, isn’t it?

Great products and services speak, very quietly, for themselves, without the aid of a paid spokesperson.

Who are you really trying to convince here?

Yourself?

Religion, business and other awkwardness

In modern, democratic civilisation, why should people who don’t follow a particular (or any) religion feel social pressure modify their behavior to avoid offending or inconveniencing someone who does?

Just think for a minute…

If you modify your behavior (however slightly) to appease the rules set by someone else’s god(s), you’ve got a moral and ethical problem on your hands.

The only way to completely avoid “offending” a person of a different religion is to convert to their religion. However, since there are so many religions, we will never succeed in making all of us happy and comfortable at the same time.

Offend and be offended.

That is the only alternative.

If you refrain from ordering beef in the presence of Hindus, pork in the presence of Jews or Muslims, or any sort of meat at all in the presence of pagan vegans, you are not just avoiding offence, you are also tacitly practicing their religion. You are being manipulated into doing something you would not usually do – into changing yourself – to suit, honour (in some way even unwittingly ‘worship’) another person’s god.

Awkward.

And then we get to the work place.

If you adjust any secular business work schedules or office rules to accommodate the religious time tables of selected groups of colleagues or employees, you have to do it for all religious groups (yes, even the ironic Pastafarians), or you imply unethical favouritism to a particular group.

Oh the conundrum.

Ultimately, it the individual is the one who has to chose between their job, their social circle and their religion.

The rest of us are not compelled to make that choice easier for the individual by accommodating the individuals religion through any sort of special allowances or personal sacrifices.

Surely a secular commercial enterprise should not feel pressure to give religious staff extra breaks during fast periods, move meetings away from prayer times or sacred days (especially when all the major religions pick a different day of the week to avoid work) or amend dress codes to the satisfaction of the office religious faction?

Every time you choose to amend behaviour or make allowances to avoid offending one religious group; you also explicitly offend everyone who is not a part of that group.

….And yet, every day, I read of more listed, commercial, businesses making ‘special allowances’ for staff of specific religions…

If business – the social entity that has the least incentive to make allowances of any kind – is making these allowances; it follows that it will not be long before the state also makes these special allowances for the vocally religious.

And if a country has different sets of standards – possible even a different set of rules – for a specific segment of the population… Well, we are all in trouble. Big trouble.

 

Equality or Liberty?

There comes a time every country, society and individual had to choose between Liberty and Equality; for the two are mutually exclusive.

You cannot achieve equality without violating the liberty of others. Likewise the definition of liberty forces one to accept inequality.

As for me, I choose freedom over fairness. I accept that I may not get everything I desire, but at least I am free to try.

What about you?

On equality

Why do we strive for equality? We say we want smaller wage gaps, equal pay, equal rights, equal privilege, equal opportunites.

But do you really want to be equal with everyone else?

The worldwide median family income is less than $10,000 per annum.

That would be ‘fair’.

But do YOU want YOUR family to live on less than $10,000 per annum?

If you’re reading this on a computer, achieving that ‘fair’ wage will require YOU to give up a large chunk of your net-worth (and a good few bedrooms in your house).

It will require giving up luxuries like WiFi, seaside holidays and good wine (the stuff that comes in a nice understated bottle).

It will require giving up retirement plans and financial security, and living hand to mouth.

Do you still want to be equal?

What is ‘fair’ anyway? 

Life is not fair. Far from it.

Life is extremely UNFAIR, naturally.

You can see this in the wild. Some plants and animals are simply at the bottom of the food chain. Others are at the top.

Likewise, some people are born uncommonly beautiful. Or smart. Or tall. Or strong. Or thin. Or in a nicer climate.

Or rich.

Others are less fortunate.

However, we don’t insist that beautiful people wear bags on their heads to hide their gifted looks.

We don’t insist great minds get penalised with a frontal lobotomy to even the playing field.

We don’t shorten tall people’s legs. Or break the legs of great athletes to make them just the same as the rest of us.

We don’t force everyone to live in the Sahara desert – so we can all endure the same crappy climate.

No.

We understand that there is no way to make these things fair and equal. Some people simply luck out.

Why then, when it comes to wealth, do we attempt to fix the system?

Why do we wish to penalise and punish the lucky in wealth?

Imagine if we applied the same forced equality principles to love… and forced all happy couples, the lucky in love, to break up their relationships to be equal to all the people broken homes…

Equality makes no sence if you have to take something from someone else to make it so.

 

 

 

Ask yourself these two questions before you post another update

Is this needy? 

Am I fishing for compliments? Begging for “likes” to boost my self-esteem?
Am I doing the online equivalent of asking the world if these jeans make me look fat?

Is this narcissistic?

Am I bragging? Showing off?
Am I just talking about myself and my selfies?

Before you post your next brand, business, or even a personal update on your favourite social media platform, ask yourself these two questions.

If the answer to either is “yes” do not press send.

Go back to the drawing board and come up with something valuable to humanity. Or, at least, useful to your target market.  Do not post things that are merely comforting to your own vanity.

 

Being intolerant of intolerance, and other philosophical dilemmas

“The liberal idea of tolerance is more and more a kind of intolerance. What it means is ‘Leave me alone; don’t harass me; I’m intolerant towards your over-proximity.”
~ Slavoj Žižek

 

It says a lot about our society that it’s acceptable to be as a slut, but not acceptable to not accept the slutty behaviour.

 

Especially when we look beyond the proud nudes in front of us to the other, more serious, bad behaviours that are gaining acceptance and even admiration: Antisemitism, racism, militant nationalism, religious intolerance, hate speech, violence…

It appears as long as you can label yourself some kind of ‘victim’, ‘minority’, ‘slut’, etc. you can get away with murder – with public approval.

 

On the topic of free education

Across the world, students are demanding free higher, university level education.

Here is my question:

The thing with ‘free’ eduction though, is that someone still has to pay. If the student or their family does not foot the bill, someone else has to pay for the lecturers, books, buildings, electricity and the like.

The someone, in this case, is the state.

If the state (and the taxpayers by association, since the state if funded by taxpayers) pays for their education, should the state then not have the right to decide what they study?

Should the state not have the right to offer free education, but only for degrees for which there is a demand for new graduates?

After all, the logical (not the emotional ‘fairness’ ideology which I will ignore for now) argument for ‘free’ education is that a better educated population equals a better, more productive workforce, which in turn equals a better economy, which in turn benefits the benefactors of the free education; the state and the tax payers.

The issue is, what happens when most of the students who hope to be recipients of this policy decide they want to study art history and basic psychology?

After all, a  three year Bachelor of Arts degree seems like so much more ‘fun’ than a lengthy medical or engineering programme.

But how many arts graduates does an economy really need? Does a surplus arts grad increase their own employability, or add value to the economy that sponsored their indulgence?

Surely, if raging baby boomer tax payers have to pay for student education, they should get something out of the deal too; doctors, nurses, teachers, engineers, etc.

Somehow I don’t think the student protestors will go for this logic though.

They want the free education – without any strings attached. Why should they have to pay back any sort of debt to scociety?

 

 

On the cult of content

Do brands really need to become publishers to ‘survive’ today?

I would say no.

No consumer* wants to read another piece of ad content written by a brand, ad agency or PR company thing disguised as “useful editorial”.

No one benefits** from more words being written; from more content clutter on the “inter webs”.

Not even businesses.

Businesses should focus on what they do best – creating products and services for which there is a demand. If you supply a demand, you will succeed, whether or not you write (or pay someone to write) 350 – 500 words on the subject once a day.

I predict that the current content culture will, in time (although not soon enough) be seen as one of the biggest follies of our age.

Brand generated content should be as embarrassing to businesses as selfies are to human beings.

*The only people who win in a world where every brand and business is trying to become a publishing “thought leader” are the b-grade journalists and writers who found themselves become irrelevant and out of work when the media-advertsing-industrial complex died along with the advent of the internet. Luckily for them, they still had the dying embers of the media to sell us on the idea of content being the next big thing before they faded into obscurity…)

**Yes, I am aware of the irony of writing this opinion piece on a blog and the fact that for most of my adult life I have been paid to write, spin and publish content, but at least I have the humility to be embarrassed about it.