Monday, October 15, 2012

Bricolage - Pulling a large rabbit out of a small hat by the power of branding

"Just Do It." Chances are, you know the company behind this statement. Images of sports shoes and apparel, swooshes, and athletes fill your mind. More importantly, though, you know what the tagline implies. "Just Do It" is now a cultural idea, a way of life, a representation of athletic effort, of competition, of sweat and grit and determination to push one's body to its limits.

Stephen Nachmanovitch, famed author, lecturer, and improvisational violinist, discusses the French word bricolage in his book, Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art, and equates it to what engineers call elegance, or a system in which something with a very complicated nature is diluted into a simpler representation. Bricolage may produce "a single line of thought [that] has a great many implications and outcomes."*

Nachmanovitch would label the creators of Nike's famous tagline as "creative chemists." He writes that through the process of bricolage, "we take the ordinary materials in our hands [in this case three small words and a period] and turn them into new living matter - the 'green gold' of the alchemists."**

Just as Nike's brand image is elegantly found in "Just Do It," all great brands are birthed from, bathed in, and interwoven with bricolage (e.g. the Rolex crown, Apple's bitten apple, Ferrari's red.) The goal of the master brand strategist is leveraging simple tools to attain complex feelings - i.e. gut reactions to a company that is forever etched in the consumer's mind. Just as "Beethoven crafted his own music, to an amazing extent, of nothing but scales,"* so the medium of our art, whether a logo, tagline, brochure, or website, works within the wholethrough the process of bricolage—to create something far more powerful, the "green gold" of all commerce and industry: the memorable brand.

*p. 86, Nachmanovitch, Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art 
**p.87, Nachmanovitch, Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art

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