What do the following mean?
‘Respect every colour’
Denotatively the word ‘flexible ‘means ‘capable of bending easily without breaking’. In order to interpret the second statement (‘respect every colour’) let’s explore meaning of its components on the dimension know as syntagmatic axis. These are three words chained together to form the sentence. Their dictionary meanings are as follows:
- Respect- cherish, admiration, deference, honor, value and revere
- Every- all individuals, each and every
- Colour- hue, shade, tint, tone and tinge
Now if I ask you to tell me their meaning. In all probability the answer would be there is nothing to give, it is very obvious. The flexibility is a characteristic of a material. And the second statement gives a call to treat all shades of paints or colours as equal. These are headlines of two brands, Allen Solly and Bravia (Sony). Let us delve into their meanings at deeper level.
In case of Allen Solley, the brand apparently seeks to lure customers by the promise of ‘flexibility’ that stems from the use of materials which enhance wear comfort. The built in flexibility of a chino would allow its wearer to perform different jobs with ease. It is an important benefit.
But does it give sustainable differentiation? The fabrics and stitching can easily be copied. Then how does the brand connect with its young millennial consumers? In order to be valuable, brands must make sense beyond surface attributes and forge connections at deeper level. One such method is to add value by relating the brand with consumer values. Values are life guiding beliefs that define a person in terms of what he or she stands for.
So what does ‘flexibility’ means from a person’s perspective? It denotes a particular kind of personality as someone who is not rigid, unyielding and adamant. Flexibility can also mean accommodating attitude and not having a worldview that hardliners have. Flexibility in this sense conveys a lot about the millennial mindset who show tolerance to dissent and are open to rational persuasion. They are flexible and do not side with extreme binaries. They are pragmatic in their approach to things in life. This meaning operates at second level of signification.
In case of Bravia, the headline- ‘Respect every colour’ makes sense only when it is seen through larger socio-cultural space. The meaning is hidden in the world ‘colour’ The word colour in an indirect sense may signify race, religion, caste or other social categories and hidden power asymmetry. The most obvious categories that come to mind are white and black people. The usage of the word ‘colour’ in a television’s context is very obvious. It conveys that the television does not discriminate between colours and produces high quality images on screen. But this is not the actual message. The brand seeks to forge a meaningful relationship at the psychological level.
The brand stands for the ideals of equality and non-discrimination. It conveys its position against prejudices and biases plague society. The millennial mind set is not committed to binaries that have been perpetuated by orthodoxy that find expressions gender roles, religious and social practices.
The newspapers on this Sunday carried the ads of Allen Solley and Bravia but what made me ponder over was another news item (HT Sept 4, 2017) which went like: ‘ABVP routed in student body polls: chips down for RSS backed student body as they perform poorly in Hyderabad, Guwahati and Punjab universities’.
The writing is on the wall. The narrative of BJP and ABVP is not resonating with the youth. It is time to revisit the values that it wants to stand for before it is too late.