Yesterday was a lesson in humility for me. And I am proud to write this because I myself never like an argument for arguments sake.
The discussion which morphed into a debate was about brand passion. Is passion something that comes from within or can it be forced upon by an organisation? Do brands that have no positive benefit to society even deserve passion? Can someone who is new have the genuine spirit to war paint and mouth the silent slogans of brotherhood?
My initial argument was that passion can be generated - it always does not have to come from within.
Five minutes into the debate and I knew I had lost. What I learnt has nothing to do with the topic itself- like all subjects, this is subjective. My learnings were of a different kind. It was about the art of speaking with conviction . To win a debate or discussion.
1. Genuine passion screams louder than the loudest voice. Genuine passion cannot be fake.
2. Speak with conviction rather than rooting for something just because you belong to an organisation or work on a brand.
3. Listen. Rather than talk. Get what the others are saying. This gives us time to think better.
4. Do not divert and digress . Stay focussed in any discussion. Stick to the point.
5. Be well read. And informed. Informed people can be formidable opponents.
6. Don't get personal.When I realised I was cornered, I started hitting out on matters which were irrelevant.
7. Weave logic around the discussion point- cite examples from other categories, from history, from recent politics. cast a larger net. And drill deeper if you get a sense that the others are not as conversant in that subject.
Coming back to the subject under debate, this was what I concluded in my own mind as I churned the conversation later.
1. Passion has to come from within.
2. Brands can discover passion points and fuel the fire around them
3. Brand communities need more than just a brand purchase to belong. One needs to imbibe the spirit of the brand , understand the codes, respect the community- the same codes we follow when joining a club or a gang. A bunch of suits riding a bike solemnly on a Sunday does not give them the license for HOG. A community is much more than that.
4. Brands that generate passion become icons- we wear them proudly as labels, they become discussion points in living rooms and occupy a place of pride in our lives.
Finally, it is the loyal consumer who takes on the reins of passion and writes the codes that make a brand into a cult. Loyalty that comes out of experience, positive feedback and authenticity. An honest bond that germinates and stays on forever.
Useful lessons- both in the skills of a convincing argument and the understanding of brand passion. Like I always believe, knowledge is all around us. We just need to be receptive and willing.
And yes, passion can never be faked.