I realise it is customary to wait till the end of the year to announce the Global Brand of 2012. But frankly we may as well declare the winner now- it has already declared its credentials, and no one else will even come close in the rest of 2012.
It is, of course, the Higgs boson: media sensation, darling of the Twitterati, the particle on everyone’s lips.
Media inches aside, the determining factor in this year’s award is primarily that the Higgs boson defies everything that we are told matters in successful brands today – it represents the exact opposite of every major trend that marketing experts present as critical for success. And all of these characteristics are significant contributors to why it exerts such a powerful grip on the imagination even of the non-scientists.
So bear with me. Let’s set out a few key macrotrends that trend analysts and coolhunters would persuade us are essential for success in 2012, and see how the Higgs boson stacks up:
Is the Higgs boson transparent? Well, no – it tells us nothing about itself at all. In fact, it is so enigmatic that it actually appears to resist the attempts of its most ardent fans to know it better.
Strike 2. It’s about as inaccessible as it’s possible to be. You need a lot of time and people to access it, and they have to wear white coats and live in a hole 200 metres beneath Switzerland.
Oh, and when they think they’ve found it they are not sure whether they really have. Brilliant.
3. Respectful of our time
No one could accuse the Higgs boson of instant gratification. It takes two hours and some serious equations for the leading scientists in the world to explain why it matters, and even then we still can’t understand a word they are saying.
And that’s after they have been working flat out since 1964 trying to find a way to show it exists.
Our brand of the year is more the small, silent type. It’s not interested in dialogue. Not remotely chatty. Returns no tweets.
It is, in fact, a complete stranger to any kind of conversation at all.
5. Priced for an austerity market
Six billion euros for something you can’t sell or plant a flag on makes it one of the boldest investments in science mankind has ever made. But value-conscious it isn’t.
You must be joking. It’s not even clear whether it works on the Large Hadron Collider.
But. And it’s a big But…
It is useful. Very, very useful indeed.
Indispensible, actually. The universe would not be able to function without it.
Now that’s utility with a proper KPI.
And in this one very particular regard it is bang on trend.
So, to sum up the Higgs boson: an utterly indispensable product, wrapped in an enigma and mystery that fascinates media and opinion leaders alike, constantly pursued by a small cadre of fans who are devoting their entire lives to sharing its secrets. I defy you to find a stronger contender for Brand of the Year in the next 6 months.
A couple of years ago, I proposed a new institution , named after one of our most famous scientists: the Sir Isaac Newton Mystery School. Its ambition was to re-educate the world about the power and importance of Mystery. Charlotte Rampling was to be its visiting Professor.
This just in: we have invited the Higgs boson to come and give the inaugural address. It will take less than one second, and we won’t even be sure whether it has actually happened or not.
But we’ll never forget it.