The Age of Approachability

 

 

 

Some things will never change: anything involving children, animals and bare skin instantly triggers our attention, and we stop to take a second look. In all probability people's basic needs have remained consistent throughout the ages: love, appreciation, sexuality, freedom, joy, a purpose in life. Our primeval instincts continue to drive us to seek these qualities and in all likelihood this will remain so until the end of time. What has changed and will continue to change is how these qualities are displayed and in what form we want them to be represented. Our instincts are a given, yet what arouses and awakens them is continuously being redefined by our social environment.

Not so very long ago, advertising was all about staging luxury worlds, presenting us with an illusion of what we could achieve if only we used this perfume, drove that car, ate this product, wore that shirt, and so on. Almost supernaturally beautiful people lived a life filled with glamour and status symbols which the average citizen would only ever experience in their dreams. Advertising used constructed dreamworlds to lure people into the future. "It's not about what you are now, it's about what you could be." It always related to where you were headed, to getting more and being better, in short: use the right brand and you could achieve the unachievable.

Today, this doesn't work anymore. Possibly, our perception has changed as a result of our almost permanent engagement with the digital world. All the available apps have made us realize how easily the ordinary can be given a glossy finish. We're starting to see how little it takes to transform the unremarkable into something truly remarkable. There may be other factors, but whatever the reasons behind the change, it has taken place. And so, certain concepts that functioned perfectly in the past have ceased to be effective. That clear lifestyle concept promoted by brands like Abercrombie & Fitch has lost its edge, nobody gets excited about it anymore. An endless line-up of beautiful people with beautiful bodies who have nothing much else to tell us appears ludicrous nowadays.

If fact, there is a certain resemblance here with the position of royalty today. In contrast with the past, when a public faux-pas led to a popular outcry and (possibly only outwardly displayed) upset, today a royal misstep brings these individuals closer to us. A dress that's too tight, an ill-advised remark induced by alcohol excess, falling in love with a personal trainer, getting married to a commoner. Their slips amuse or touch us rather than upsetting us. We are actually pleased when our idols display authentic, human behavior that could have happened in our own circle.

Maybe it's seeing both sides of the coin that attracts us. Not only do we see the final, intended-for-the-public poster of Victoria's Secret Angels. We also know how they manage to look like that, because we saw them on Instagram sweating away during their workouts. By witnessing these intimate details we feel that we have become part of the full story. The experience starts feeling genuine and tangible to us as onlookers as well. Approachability is what attracts us nowadays, for the simple reason that it lets us share in someone else's story.

PUNKTMagazin

This article appeared in PUNKTMagazin. The Swiss magazine combines economics, investment and lifestyle and is published every two months. Branders CEO René Allemann writes a column for the publication. You'll find more information on PUNKTMagazin here: www.punktmagazin.ch

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René Allemann

René Allemann

Born in Zurich, René Allemann founded the consulting firm Branders in 2005. With 20 employees, the branding agency creates, maintains and manages brands. The Brander journal is published by the Branders Group.


The Brander is a publication of the Branders Group