Consilience in branding

I had never heard of the word “consilience” until a couple of years ago.  It was introduced to me by a friend who saw tremendous opportunities for using the theory of consilience in marketing communications.

Consilience means taking ideas from one area of study and applying them to another.  For instance, if a person made a theory about an apple falling from a tree (Newton) and then applied it to the planets and stars (Galileo) they would be using “consilience”.

Another way of thinking about this is to consider universities.  Within a university are many departments and within each department are specialists and sub-specialists and sub-sub-specialists.  The discoveries made by these specialists tends to be incremental.  The big discoveries are made by people who look across specialities or who take ideas from one specialty (psychology) and apply it to another (economics).  The combination of psychology and economics has led to a growth in “behavioral economists” and the book “Freakonomics”.  It is a way of creating new ideas through cross-fertilization of disciplines. Interdisciplinary is a clunky word for this elegant idea.

The word  consilience was dusted off and put to good use by the Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson in a book titled “Consilience”.

It has also been used to describe the Narrative Branding approach.  For instance, neuropsychology has been unlocking more secrets into how we think, how we understand and how we communicate.  We have drawn on these insights into the human mind to come up with a breakthrough approach that will be more effective.  If we understand the mind better and use that understanding to come up with a better approach for branding, then the likelihood of success will be much higher.

As the Advertising Research Foundation has reported in the 2007 study “On the Road to More Effective Advertising”:

“Even though the new insights into the human mind are available, there are few techniques widely used today to take advantage of the knowledge to the benefit of advertisers.”

Attached is an article we wrote on this topic a year and a half ago for the Korean marketing journal, “Brand Forum”.  VerseGroup_brandforum_consilience bilingual

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