If a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it, does it still make a sound?
Why? Simple: a tree falling merely creates a disruption in the environment; the air, the ground, the other surroundings. The falling of the tree creates vibrations in these things – a deviation from the relative formerly peaceful conditions. A disturbance. But no sound was made. It takes a LISTENER – a receptor – to complete the process by ingesting the disruption, perceiving it, and then processing it. Only when the physical disturbance is processed can the brain react accordingly, telling us “I just heard something.” Transmitter, receiver. Both are needed. Otherwise, it’s an open loop. No receiver, no “sound” – the byproduct of disruption + perception.
Case in point: an elderly person whose hearing is poor enough to not register the sound of a too-quiet TV. In their mind, no sound was heard – therefor no sound was made. Or of dogs who can hear frequencies we cannot. So, “Just because I can’t hear it doesn’t mean it doesn’t make noise” might seem like a good argument, but it’s not. Transmissions are not sounds. Sound is only sound when there are those able to receive a transmission, register it, and process it. Otherwise: silence.
Now, think about branding the same way. If a company’s brand is being put out there, but does not speak to us – does not register – then that brand attempt is falling on deaf ears. Because, after all, brand is created in the individual minds of an audience. Brand is not a logo, a color chart, a design. It’s not a commodity; it’s emotional knowledge. It’s a whole vibe that tells every cell in our body how we feel about a product, service, company, person, place. And if any marketer tells you flatly, “We build brands”, they are misguided. They do not. They can steer them; they can help influence them; they can do their best to regulate the flow of triggers that might illicit a reaction in us. But just as with sound, it is up to the audience to process those triggers – those influencers – and translate them into brand. As an audience, what we do with that brand communication is entirely up to us. And what the marketers are hoping is that our actions match their goals. And as a company who works in the world of branding, this is our objective, too.
A call to action is merely that: a call. As the audience, WE decide how we act. This is based on the brand we have created in our mind, from all the signals received – the disruption – from a marketer. And if that disruption fails to make an impression on us, eliciting zero response, there ultimately is no brand.
Proverbial trees fall in the woods all the time from never having made a brand connection. To a would-be audience, it’s as if those trees never existed.
Think about it.