Friday, January 04, 2008

Another look at the medium is the message

This is an old idea but one where I generally think that the point was missed a little. The media industry used it the most to basically say, ‘media is really important don’t you know,’ i.e. your choice of media is as, or more important in communicating your message, than your message itself. This is somewhat right I think in opening out the idea that the message is not all that really matters. But the concept is much bigger than the realms of basic media planning e.g. so you want to be cool… then we will find you some cool environments like Vogue. This assessment diminishes the importance of what I think is one of the most crucial things to understand for the communications business. For me what this is really saying is that it is not what you say that defines what you are, its how you behave. (The same way that the medium is the message argument says that what's on TV is less important than the way it behaves and impacts on our behavior e.g. staying in the home.) On the one hand this is just common sense i.e. If I say I am cool it means nothing if I dress and act awkwardly... in other words my behaviour gives me away. On the other hand this shows the potential of what communications planning can be useful for. It should have the potential of a broader view of all of the elements that make up the way a brand behaves in all of the environments where this happens.

If for (traditional) advertising the 'message is the message,' and for media the 'medium is the message,' then for communications planning the line should read like this… 'The behaviour is the meaning.'

A quick example would be Dove – they have stopped trying to tell people directly that their products are kind and sensitive to women and have started to behave in a way that is more generally kind and sensitive to women with their Campaign for Real Beauty. The product will not make you feel good about yourself in the way that they are trying to help women feel good about themselves – this campaign is not driven by a proposition it is driven by a purpose. The first leads to a brand message, the second leads to a brand behaviour and that’s where the meaning comes from!

1 comment:

Faris said...

yep! brands are behavioural templates