Sunday, November 29, 2009

Why is there a joy in the obvious?

Whenever I need some kind of light reading, which is more often than not, I prefer to read comics. I am a voracious reader of Asterix, Tintin and MAD comics. Even today I raid my wife’s collection of these comics which is almost always up to date. The other day I picked up one from the Asterix series. 

I always wonder as to why I am drawn to these comics even though I have read them numerous times?

I am not discovering anything new and the plot follows a predictable sequence of events. In the case of the Asterix series it begins with a crisis in the famous Gaul village, Romans getting bashed up, the pirates having their ship sunk in a skirmish with the heroes and finally not to mention the happy ending with the village feasting on wild boar while Cacofonix is all trussed up. There is a sense of anticipation as I turn the pages every time, anticipation at the inevitable turn of events. I am sure many of you have experienced this. 

What is evident from this example is that predictability does not make it any less boring. This holds true for songs, movies, sitcoms anything that has a fan following. All this is a testimony to the fact that there is a sense of joy in the obvious.

This applies to brands too. Why do we tend to use the certain brands over and over again even though there may be better ones? 

It could be because we seek comfort in the familiar or there is the inertia to change or whatever. Many a times we hazard a guess for this behaviour that turns out to be way off the mark. Predictability is questioned and made to appear as though it is regressive. Actions are undertaken to overcome this and which very often leads to disaster. A case in point is the Tropicana fiasco.

I think enduring brands are those that have a strong ‘obvious’ gene and know how to play it well. I have never been able to nail the reason beyond this and neither have I come across a convincing answer from the experts. More importantly, do we really need to know the answer and cloud our minds? I think it is best left to behavioural scientists and their rats. Meanwhile it is best to join my favorite comic character, Captain Haddock, in doing what he does best- cursing and drinking.

(Image courtesy: Asterix-Obelix & Captain Haddock)

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