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Identity Forum: Truth in branding


People care about brands because brands make people more effective at intervening in the world.

It is a profound fallacy that brands (or people) require truth to be effective. Brands only need to enable greater intervention in the world to be credible. It's this capacity to enable intervention that determines a brand's value; not truth.

This does not mean that because brands do not require truth that they are untruthful or that they deal in lies. Truth is too problematic a notion to be taken seriously on a philosophical level and this has a profound impact on all moral frameworks. The general public may still think in terms of truth. Accounts of the world might still require truth-based narratives but we are moving steadily towards a post-moral worldview.

Because a brand appears to be something it is not does not mean the brand is a lie, it only means the effectiveness of the brand has been compromised. It means that the brand is easier to make fail than before. It's not ever possible to be truthful about anything (at all). This would require the possibility of an ideal realisation of any truth. Ideal realisations are never possible under any conditions. The only remaining options in a truth-based worldview are personal and social truth.

As an individual you can believe anything you like, in any type of reality, determined by any type of logic. But, when it comes to brands, social consensus needs to be reached for a brand to exist in a stable enough form for it to be of value to more than one person. When it comes to brands, other people need to be persuaded that the brand is credible. This credibility is not based on a brand's 'truthfulness' but on its 'effectiveness' – it's capacity to enable intervention in the world.

Brands can only ever exist as socially constructed opinions. Some brands are more compelling than others, not because they are more truthful but because they draw on the most effective means available at the time to intervene in a given activity.


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