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What Does Ancient Chinese Philosophy Have To Do With Marketing?

November 11, 2013
Posted by Georgia Relich


I didn’t think it did . . . until I read this article in The Atlantic. The article talks about an immensely popular Harvard course in Chinese philosophy whose three core tenets provide a way to approach everything from relationships to career decisions, and I think, marketing and branding.

  1. The smallest actions have the most profound ramifications. From a Chinese philosophical point of view, small daily experiences provide endless opportunities to understand ourselves and others. When we notice and understand what makes people tick, we develop a better sense of who we are. From a marketing standpoint, we know we can’t speak to people in a relevant way if we don’t understand them. It’s not about what we want to say about ourselves but what they need to hear about us.
  2. Decisions are made from the heart. In Chinese, the word for “mind” and “heart” are the same. But, not for most marketers. They insist that we make decisions in the rational mind, but new studies in behaviorial psychology prove that the heart makes the decision, while the mind rationalizes and validates it.
  3. If the body feels, the mind will follow. Here, the article cites not only the Chinese philosophers, but Artistotle who said “we are what we repeatedly do.”  Consistency, consistency, consistency. We can’t say it enough in branding. Make the promise and then live it, say it and be it . . . over and over again and in every interaction.

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