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The Tao of Branding

David Straker








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When we look out onto the world, we do not see it as it truly is. All we see is the internal map we have created. Yet, as Korzybski pointed out, the map is not the territory, even though we act as if were so. We get trapped by our maps and by the mental models and beliefs that shape them. Like the Corinthians, we see the world as through a glass, darkly.

Tao clarity

The Tao provides a lens, or maybe a lens-cloth, to better see what is there. Tao is neither a religion nor a system of dogma that forces itself upon you. It offers neither salvation nor answers. More, it is a set of gentle provocations that inspired the more intense Zen that it predates. Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle says (and the Hawthorne experiments proved) that the act of looking changes that which is being observed. By not looking, Tao sees what is there.

Tai Chi connection

Tai Chi Chuan is more than the strange floating exercises that Chinese do in the early morning park. It is also the most effective martial art, capable of killing at a touch and yet so soft it can be performed by an old man or young woman. It includes moving other people so subtly they do not realize they have moved. Tai Chi is all about Tao.

Brand potential

Some brands have Tao in abundance. A. A. Milne’s enduring Winnie the Pooh has lent its Tao to Disney. This is not surprising: being a brand the touches the Tao already, Disney easily recognized Pooh’s potential. Virgin is another Tao brand, where Richard Branson’s essential power spreads to all corners of his empire.

Companies spend a great deal of time, money and effort in trying to create a brand with an indefinable quality, yet few succeed. Yet finding Tao is not a matter of searching: it is more about opening eyes and seeing what is already there.


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