Aesthetics as Symbols

Art communicates: Indeed, Confucius is reputed to have opined, a picture is worth a thousand words. But, of course, so can a dance or a song. As we acquire our culture we learn the meaning of this wonderful symbolic system represented in the aesthetics that is the arts, folklore, music, drama, and dance. Customers everywhere respond to images, myths and metaphors that help them define their personal and national identities and relationships within a context of culture and product benefits. The uniqueness of a culture can be spotted quickly in symbols having distinct meanings. Think about the subtle earth tones of the typical Japanese restaurant compared with the bright reds and yellow the décor of ethnic Chinese restaurants. Similarly a long standing rivalry between the Scottish Clan Lindsay and Clan Donald caused McDonald’ corporation some consternation when they chosen the Lindsay tartan deign for new uniforms for its restaurant hosts and hostesses. Godfrey Lord McDonald, chief of Clan Donald, was outraged and complained that McDonald’s had a complete lack of understanding of the name. Of course the plaid in the uniforms is now the least of the firm’s worries as British consumers are becoming more concerned about health-related matters.

Without a culturally correct interpretation of a country’s aesthetic values, a host of marketing problems can arise. Product styling must be aesthetically pleasing to be successfully pleasing to be successful, as must advertisement and package designs. Insensitivity to aesthetic values can offend, create a negative impression, and, in general render marketing efforts ineffective or even damaging. Strong symbolic meanings may be overlooked if one is not familiar with a culture’s aesthetic values. The Japanese for example the crane as being very lucky because it is said to live a thousand years; however the use of the number four should be avoided completely because the word or four, shi, is also the Japanese word for death. Thus teacups are sold in sets of five, not four, in Japan.

Finally, one author h suggested that understanding different culture metaphors is a key doorway to success. We list metaphors Martin Gannon to represent cultures around the world. In the fascinating text he compares American Football (with gist individualism, competitive specialization, huddling and ceremonial celebration of perfection) to the Spanish Bull fight (with its pompous entrance parade audience participation, and the ritual of the fight) to the Indian dance of the Shiva (with its cycle of life, family and social interaction) Empirical evidence is beginning to accumulate supporting the notion that metaphors matter. Any good international marketer would see fine fodder for advertising campaigns in the insightful descriptions depicted.

Of course, much of what we learn to believe comes from religious training. But to adequately consider matters of true with and spirituality here is certainty impossible. Moreover the relationship between superstition and religion is not at all clear. For example one explanation of the origin about the Western aversion to the number 13 has to do with Jesus sitting with his 12 disciples at the Last supper.

However, many of our beliefs are secular in nature. What Westerners often call superstitions may play quite a large role in a society’s belief system in another part of the world. For example, in parts of Asia, Ghosts, fortune telling, palmistry blood types, head bump reading, phases of the moon, faith healers, demons, and soothsayers can all be integral elements of society. Surveys of advertisements in Greater chain show and preference for an 8 as the last digit in prices listed – the number connotes prosperity in Chinese culture. And recall the Japanese concern about Year of the Fire Horse discussed earlier.

Called art, science, philosophy or superstition depending on who is talking the Chinese practice of Feng shui is an important ancient belief held by Chinese among others. Feng shui is the process that links humans and the universe to ch’i the energy that sustains life and lows through our bodies and surroundings, in around our homes in workplaces. The idea is to harness this ch’i to enhance good luck, prosperity good health and honor of the owner of a premise and to minimize the negative force, she ch’i and its effect. Feng sui requires engaging the services of a feng shui to determine the positive orientation of a building in relation to the owner’s horoscope, the date of establishment of the business, or the shape of the land and building. It is not a look or a style, and it is more than aesthetics: Feng shui is a strong belief in establishing a harmonious environment through the design and placement of furnishings and the avoidance of buildings facing northwest the devil’s entrance and southwest the devil’s backdoor. Indeed Disney has even feng-shuied all its rides in Hong Kong Disneyland.