What Marketing Can Learn from Fractals

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Last week, I saw an episode of BBC’s The Code. The series show how mathematical principles are present in our daily lives.

The second episode was about the way nature is designed. Natural phenomena actively use the principle of Fractals. A fractal is a geometric shape that repeats itself continuously. As a result, the whole object is shaped in exactly the same way as its smallest part.

A tree is a good example: the smallest branch is designed in the same way as the whole tree. Because nature applies these simple principles continuously – for a tree, the principle is simply that a branch is divided in two  – highly complex objects are created in a very efficient way.

Humans intuitively appreciate these mechanisms, it’s in our nature, so to say. For a long time, the abstract paintings of Jackson Pollock were unexplainably attractive. Until it was discovered that his paintings were structured as fractals as well. They always followed the same pattern, even when you zoomed into their designs. Here is an example I made, every image is cropped from the previous one.

Inspired by this documentary, I realized that these principles might apply to marketing as well. Because in the essence modern marketing is trying to create fractals as well.

Big brands try to behave as their smallest part, like humans. And ideally an organizations applies this mechanism continuously, whatever the size of the part. The company, the brands, the departments and employees all follow the same, human principles: open, warm, honest and close.

It’s likely that the stronger these fundamental principles are applied by a company, the more harmonic the resulting ‘pattern’ feels and the more natural it comes across to its customers.

Of course, the idea that companies should behave like humans is not new. But the documentary got me thinking whether we are applying these principles vigorously enough. Does it still make sense to make a distinction between brand models, consumers models and organizational models? Or are the principles behind each of them much simpler than they appear, just like the tree?

Original Post: http://blog.frislicht.com/2011/08/een-interessante-les-van-fractal.html