On the arbitrariness of the images

It is common to hear that the relationship of a brand with that which its image represents is arbitrary. This would justify, for example, that the Unilever brand could be identified with an image that speaks of birds, fish and other cheerful and friendly symbols without Unilever actually being that which its brand communicates.

However, if there is no motivation for that brand to mean what it says, the brand would be at risk of lying or saying something out of place. This would imply that Unilever might be deceiving us.

But maybe the explanation is something else. Perhaps the fish and birds are in us, not the brand of Unilever. They are in our need to seek something arbitrary in our lives, something that gives us joy, something like a symbol which might be a product or whatever. In this case, the one lying to us would not be Unilever but ourselves, in the sense that we are just people looking for beautiful images.

Perhaps what we are buying is not a cleaning product. Maybe we are not even buying the product quality assurance that this symbol expresses. Perhaps what we are actually buying is just a symbol. To have that with us for a moment takes us to a place with birds and fish and joy, nothing more than that.

This would mean that we have the need to buy or take beauty from images, and if for the same price they enable us to clean floors, all the better.


©Sebastian Guerrini, 2009