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10/10/2008

Sum total of all the misunderstandings

I have listened to an interview with the writer Philip Roth on a BBC podcast (podcasts are great!) Roth has talked about fame and he quoted R.M. Rilke: "Fame is finally only the sum total of all the misunderstandings that can gather around a new name."

What we have here is a clear definition of a modern brand by Rilke: "Brand is finally only the sum total of all the misunderstandings that can gather around a (new) name." It is a definition that emphasizes the role of consumer co-creation in the brand development process (i.e. the sum total of all the misunderstandings). Rilke's name could have become big in the world of marketing if he had dropped the gloomy positioning and had been a bit more of a team-player.

Rilke's problem is not that of skills but of attitude. For instance, he also said something along these lines: "who would speak of victory, survival is all!". It is a very Eastern European thing to say. It is because of this defeatist attitude that we, Eastern Europeans, tend not to get to the top positions in marketing at multinational firms. Rilke might be right in a long run but I don't recommend to anybody to use this quote during a job interview for a brand managerial position. However, one can co-create with Rilke, change the sentence slightly and say with a winning smile "who would speak of survival, it is victory that is all!". Such statement will make a huge impression on the HR person present at the interview. Rilke