Our Cognitive Wiring Needs A Tune Up

“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” -Albert Einstein
I was reading my signed copy of Tom Asacker’s new book, A Little Less Conversation: Connecting with Customers in a Noisy World, on the plane from Houston this morning.
The opening passage in Chapter 3 reached out and grabbed me:

The ideas that you’ve been exposed to about business, that it’s all about exchanging tangible benefits for money with rational people who are trying to accomplish something in the marketplace is holding you down. You’re habituated to it. You’re stuck. Your ideas about branding are also holding you down. Branding is not about discovering your essence, nor is it a graphic design and communication endeavor. It’s about creating your essence by working with customers to uniquely add value to their lives.
…Don’t let your habituated mind talk you out of the truth about the marketplace.

I love that phrasing, “your habituated mind.” How many of us in Adlandia are creatures with habituated minds? A fair number, I’m going to say. Yet, if you believe Asacker and others sounding similar notes of change, we need to find new ways of looking at the marketing problems our clients face. We need to find myriad ways to unhabituate our minds. Just because we’re still leaning on TV (or whatever methods we’re leaning on) doesn’t mean we can continue to do so in 2009 and beyond.
As we work on the reinvention of marketing communications, it seems like we would do well to continually ask, “Have you empowered the customer today?” Also ask “What examples of co-creation does the agency or brand have? We’ve seen the reel, where’s the wiki?”



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.