In the shade of the palmetto logo

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I became a true South Carolinian in the pillow section of the Harbison Bed, Bath and Beyond. As a Florida transplant of six years, I still don’t drink sweet tea — but I bought a palmetto tree pillow. I’m officially in, ya’ll.

There is no doubt that South Carolinians love their palmetto tree imagery. A Google business search pulls up 443 businesses with the name “Palmetto” in the Columbia area alone! And a short drive along Highway 378 shows that they’ve all capitalized on this Southern convention with creative logo depictions. For an object that essentially consists of a trunk and fronds, the variations are impressive! You’ve got your stylized Palmetto Health stalk, your backlit S.C. Education lottery Warhol and your realistic Palmetto Custom Construction bloomer amid countless other fat trees, skinny trees, partial trees and artistic trees.

The things is, it works. And I’d like to thank the aesthetic gurus at ConstantNow for teaching me not to fear the palmetto during a recent logo redesign project. The final product is modern, streamlined and strong, and its individuality is a testament to the creative minds in S.C.!

Let’s just hope extraterrestrials never pay a visit to our fair state because they will certainly expect our leader to look like a palmetto tree (Gov. Sanford, anyone?).

Brainstorming while nestled against my new pillow, I’ve tried to find a reason for the marketing permeation of the palmetto. Please add a post if you have a good explanation for its resonance! I’ve tried to splice together theories of rebellion and conformity “a way of banding together while branding together! And it is only fitting that the material used to protect us during not one but two revolutionary wars is now helping promote the independence of S.C.’s small businessmen! Or maybe the palmetto’s innate elegance has allowed it to creep past the kudzu into our notions of Southern charm and hospitality. Maybe it’s a haven of shade for our summer-baked minds. But if you don’t get it, you’re obviously not one of us.

Marketing: Are you my Mother?

If you think marketing is a collection of print ads, TV spots, brochures, packaging and carefully crafted messages-well, you’d be right.

But marketing is also a lot more than that. It’s visceral. It’s about making a connection in less than a nanosecond, and there’s something primal about that kind of closeness. Once that connection is made, it doesn’t matter whether it was crafted by New York City geeks in wire-rimmed glasses or whether it was grounded in years of psychological tests about word connotations and color. Good marketing creates a highly emotional link, and P&G help you if you try to replace it with New Coke.

Yes, in today’s 24-hour world of on-the-go info-tainment, marketing is more than product placement or savvy PR. It’s instinctual. Collectively speaking, marketing is our mother. Now, I’m not saying you should stop sending cards to your mom on the second Sunday in May. Even if she was June Cleaver, your mother had a little help raising you “or she at least let you tune in the see the glowing love of the Beav’s mom. The truth is, our daily exposure to the media frames our concept of life and shapes our experiences with a tidy little bow of advertising. Can we see through it? Of course. But do we choose to? With all the current demands on our time, we need some guidance to alleviate the tiny decisions and make us feel better about the major ones. Imagine what a trip to Publix would entail if you had to make a rational decision about each purchase. We need to know that Colgate whitens teeth so we can grab a tube and get on with our day!

As we increasingly rely on marketing to hold our hands for daily decisions, marketing is also striving to become more nurturing. According to Catherine Bartholow’s Business Week article “Brand Loyalty: The Mother’s Milk of Future Marketing,” more companies are exploring brand relationship marketing in an effort to truly “know” their clients and build an ongoing dialogue with them. Sounds like a good parent to me! Mama Marketing is a caretaker, really “simplifying our choices, giving the OK to splurge on an occasional Oreo and making us feel better about choosing Lexington Medical Center. She may be a permissive parent, but we can always count on her to be around and lavish us with unwavering attention!

Please share your thoughts or story about the how the surrogate mother of marketing has affected your life!