Our office is full of dogs. Generally of the small-to-medium size, but there are often at least 20 around here and they’re all well behaved and welcome.
While distracted by one of them the other day it occurred to me that a dog breed has many of the same properties as a brand: we like some more than others, but we’re often not sure why and there’s unlikely to be a rational reason; we neither know nor care about most of them; a new one can really make you stop and take notice, as can one that simply stands out by virtue of its difference; you rarely think about them unless something prompts you to do so; people can be fiercely loyal to some, while others can hate those same ones; when it comes to that moment of acquiring one you will often make your choice based on what you perceive to be no more than a gut feeling (although some will do plenty of research beforehand);
As far as I’m aware, there aren’t many dog breed advocates that could equate to ad agencies, so the choices are probably made mostly on experience or word of mouth. And if that seems arbitrary, so are the choices made in the newsagent or Selfridges.
You could apply the same arbitrariness to music, movies, books, food, wallpaper, furniture, exercise, property… in fact, pretty much anything you have to choose to acquire.
The point I’m making? Well, I think it’s interesting that we spend ages trying to figure out something that seems to tap into a fundamental human process of arbitrariness. No one really knows with any great accuracy why we do anything, but we’d love to find out, so we spend millions on trying to do just that.
I have a sneaking suspicion that we’ll never, ever know.
And I kind of like it that way.