J.S. Bach, backward time and brand history

One of the puzzles of physics is there is no mathematical reason why time flows forward and not backward as well — all the theories that explain the electromagnetic, weak nuclear, and strong nuclear forces work equally well in either direction. (All right, entropy gives time a push, but we digress.) There is a universe in which you are still a baby, so why aren’t you headed back to mommy now?

Humans are myopic and we tend to focus on today and tomorrow, explaining wars and politics and the corporate obsession with quarterly results (see our debate with @swoodruff and @obilon). Marketers fall into this immediacy trap often, thinking up the latest campaign to give their product sales a lift … without examining the context of their customers’ history. U.S. automakers fell into this boat in 2009, approaching bankruptcy as it dawned on them a vast swath of Americans still doesn’t want to buy their cars (trucks and SUVs, yes, but for smaller U.S. vehicles memories persist of the junky tin rigs sold in the 1970s).

If we are connected to our history, any communication must examine that context. You can’t repaint a brand today without understanding what it was yesterday. All perceptions of value are connected, and sometimes they form loops — like this beautiful riff by J.S. Bach.

Animation by Jos Leys. Via Andy Jukes at Million Monkeys.

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