The Blind Men and the Elephant

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I’m sure you all know the story of the blind men and the elephant. If not, here’s a brief description from Wikipedia:

In various versions of the tale, a group of blind men (or men in the dark) touch an elephant to learn what it is like. Each one touches a different part, but only one part, such as the side or the tusk. They then compare notes on what they felt, and learn they are in complete disagreement. The story is used to indicate that reality may be viewed differently depending upon one’s perspective.

I was out walking the dogs today and this image popped into my mind. I was thinking about the ad industry at the time and the various elements all vying for attention. I hear people talk about how brands can’t survive without this or that and it seems at times that we’re all blind, feeling our way around the brand. One person only sees social media, the next only traditional media, the next only digital, a fourth only retail and so on. But not enough people are seeing the whole picture.

For example, social media is clearly hot right now and certainly there are brands that are using social media very well. But, for example, I’m not sure all brands should be on Twitter or will have fan pages. They are fine products when you need them, but for example, how many people would friend Preparation H? Would you follow them on Twitter?

When people ask me to define "brand experience," I say that it’s everything you do. And thanks to tools like Twitter and Facebook, everything you do is even more important today. Deliver a bad experience and the whole world knows, right then and there.

It’s comforting to see more agencies add strategic, big picture thinkers to their ranks and brands need to start adding more big picture thinkers as well. Someone needs to be looking at everything you do, the big picture. Looking at how all of the pieces fit together to create one, consistent brand experience.

What part of the elephant do you see? Are you able to see that there are other parts? Do you understand how all of those parts work together to create something better? Brand managers need to stop seeing only the one part and they need to start seeing the whole picture. In the future, that’s what brands will live & die on.

Blind men and an elephant – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Image from Mang Ren Mo Xiang (Blind Men Touching an Elephant).

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