Ryan Jones Blog – dotCULT.com Ryan Jones Blogs About Internet Culture, Marketing, SEO, & Social Media

November 23, 2001

The Corporate Halo

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ryan Jones @ 12:00 am

Take a look at any image that comes from the corporate world, any symbol, any name, brand or logo, and you’ll notice that it starts to glow.

Notice that squeaky clean shine? That freshness? That finish? It looks almost hot.

This is what I refer to as “The corporate halo”.

Corporate symbols are painstakingly crafted and agonizingly articulated. Months of scrutiny. Meeting after Meeting. Presentation after presentation. Each step is taken to make the halo surrounding the image as bright as it can possibly be. Until the halo is so strong that it pierces the consciousness of all those who encounter it, and so hot that it burns the brand easily into the mind of the passive observer.

The corporate halo is the weapon in the assault of your mind.

The individual brain or the subjective consciousness is the receptive center to millions of symbols and images. Each day we soak in thousands and thousands of these little sound bites, flashes, pictures, codes, languages, styles and sayings into what is known as our collective unconscious, or the mega-storage area of our minds.

The collective unconscious is not only limited to the individual, but also extends to entire communities, cities, even countries. Some even say that the entire world is a huge brain, a coincidence that there are over 6 billion people in the world and over 6 billion neurons in an individuals own brain.

Because entire communities and cultures have their own collective minds, they have their own collective symbols, which are essentially reflections and manifestations of what the culture feels and thinks, and also so it can recognize itself when it needs to.

Think about how many symbols you react to on a daily basis. When you go to the toilet, a symbol tells you which toilet is which. When you drive, a symbol tells you to stop. When you buy, a symbol tells you what to purchase. The symbols sit in the collective unconscious until they are required for usage by the individual conscious mind.

As a general rule, people are attracted to the symbols which reflect them best. It is an outward expression that indicates what concepts, ideologies and lifestyles that person resonates with. It mirrors the aspects inside us that make us individual and unique. When the symbol is stronger, and able to resonate with a larger group of people, it draws people further into what it is trying to project.

A type of symbol people tend to react to is the symbol of perfection or divinity. Because most people aspire to the ultimate; whether that may be salvation, riches, beauty, fame, altruism, the ultimate Tekken combo, the perfect porno image or the best way to get high from psychedelics, people are drawn to that which represents the ultimate.

Corporate marketing saturates the collective unconscious with symbols easily recognized and understood, a shower of bright bubbles and bursting flashes that penetrate and burn deep into your mind, stimulating interest, desire and a longing for perfection. The corporate halo repeatedly defines what is the ultimate, by the stunning intensity of its ever present symbols. It reflects itself as a deity. The corporate halo is the laurel of the material god.

It can hardly be argued that the material world has created its own quasi-religious material cults, carved out of the symbols it follows. You don’t need to read wide to find stories about kids getting Nike swoosh tattoos because it “pumps them up” and you don’t need to travel far to see teenage girls dressed like their personal favorite pop culture icons. In regard to symbolism there is no intrinsic difference between a Pepsi advertisement with Britney Spears and a statue of the Buddha or a cross. All are symbols which indicate a higher power or purpose.

Which is where a powerful aspect of the halo comes into fore, the projection of infallible power and the indoctrination of material purpose over the subjects that bear witness to it. In many ways it mimics the symbols, doctrines and dogmas of religious procedure. The ones that are convinced follow the beacon which will deliver them closer to the ultimate salvation. In this case, the ultimate salvation is a dizzying concoction of fame, power, riches, status, acceptance, adoration, decadence, completion and perfection. It is promised that all will be delivered to those who follow the light of the corporate halo. The brighter and stronger the corporate halo surrounding the company, product or brand, the grander the religious fervor and allegiance towards it.

And it’s working.

Multitudes of research is conducted to indicate how bright the corporate halo burns. Thousands upon thousands of people are questioned about what the halo means to them, and what is required to make them follow it further. If its not burning bright enough, change it and make it brighter. The spectacle of the halo is the key here. The greater the spectacle, the greater of interest generated towards it. Notice how everything that exists in advertising or marketing is the latest and greatest, the most essential thing to have in your life, regardless if it is a small can of carbonated soda or a smoothly contoured hunk of metal with intricate motorization capabilities. Everything bestowed on the mortal public is akin to a divine manifestation, a glorified gift from the blessed hands of the corporate god.

But, it is in these manifestations that their weaknesses develop and the transparency of the halo becomes apparent. Although the images and the halos are etched into our collective unconscious and leave echoes of perfection, when we interact with what the halo surrounds, that is the real tangible product, we are invariably disappointed and seek for more.

Think about all the times you have received something that looks totally different (and worse) than the pictured product, all the times you have been told you were an important customer and waited an hour to be told again and again, all the times your latest and greatest supersystem was subsequently superceded a week later by something you have a newfound desire for. The desires that the corporate halo elicits are insatiable by any common means, the only way to satiate the desire is to consistently pursue it, to be rejected time and time again only to be promised something greater round the corner. In essence, to be happy following the corporate halo, you must always be grasping at it.

Those who deny the pursuit of the halo are to treated as if they were (to borrow a valley-girl expression) “retarded” by its followers. Almost as if NOT following the corporate cultural zeitgeist was an act of heresy punishable only by damnation. This sentiment is reinforced by the images and ideas that the halo enhances. If little Timmy’s brand on his shoes is incompatible with the current turn of the symbolic corporate menstrual cycle, then he is condemned by his peers. If Tiffany’s belt brand is not in complete sync with what a teenage corporate instruction manual tells her to wear, she is punished by the greatest authority she can imagine, her friends. Although everything that the corporate halo surrounds ultimately ends up leaving those who interact with it empty and wanting more, the enthusiastic zest for it sustains.

The corporate halo has so much might behind it now that it is practically impenetrable by any common means, through the one hundred or so years in its existence, even more importantly in the thirty odd years “corporate culture” (which is an oxymoron I shall discuss at a later date) has existed, it is now immutably entrenched in our way of thinking and our way of life.

Think about that. It has become our way of life.

A tool that relies on false promises, divinity, perfection, trickery, saturation, greed, manipulation and deceit has successfully convinced many people that it is the only way of life. A grand illusion is guiding the hand of the modern world into a hollow void.

An individual is one who chooses and creates his or her own symbols. An individual is one who decides what to believe based on what is inside of themselves. An individual is one who uses consciousness as a tool of development.

A conformist is one who soaks in what is already there. A conformist is one who decides what to believe based on what is outside of themselves. A conformist is one who lets his or her own consciousness be used as a tool of development by somebody else.

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