November 04, 2013
The next time you are out on a walk, find a quiet place where there is little traffic or human activity. Sit and listen. After only a few seconds you will most likely hear a bird calling. It could be a sweet-sorrowful cooing of a morning dove, or the liquid whistling tones of an oriole. Perhaps a harsh call of a crow first draws your attention. After listening for a few moments, you may hear the other birds calling in the background. Where I work and live in Lancaster County, Pa., it can sound at times like all the voices of Babylon floated to the sky and found homes in the throats of Aves.
Naturally, bird song is not the only way to identification. Seeing is also a useful sense. Visually, there is no mistaking a crow for a sparrow or an eagle from a duck. It is no coincidence their songs are distinct as their physical appearance.
The same can be said in advertising. Take two major companies that offer the same product. My first thought is McDonalds and Burger King. Think how similar they are yet appear and behave completely different from one another. All Aves are of the same class of animal, but the scope of their diversity is mind stretching. Much the same can be said for any major competing industry in the business world. They are of similar ilk yet appear and behave totally different from one another.
The important question always to ask is, “Why?” To me, the answer is simple. Survival. As dark as it may be, the business world can be just as cruel and callous as the natural world. Without distinction and specialization, it is more likely that a creature (or company) will fall by the wayside to become absorbed or extinct.
The role of an advertising agency is to give their clients the distinction and separateness that will enable them to stand out and be identified amongst all of the other competitors in the chorus. Proper branding is not only a matter of identity, but also a matter of survival. Like the lovely cheers of a cardinal, you may enjoy a clever Coca-Cola commercial. As an ad person, it is important to remember that your delight in these things is not only a call of attention but also a call of the wild. If forgotten, do not wonder for whom the crows and carrion are calling; they call for thee.