Ideology And Aesthetic
To take an extreme. The puritans believed that peity came from escaping all the trappings of materialism; their aesthetic was sparse, simple houses with basic functional furniture, no art or unnecessary decoration. In many ways the minimalist aesthetic has its routes in the same ideology. That life should be simple, functional and avoid the trappings of materialism. Of course this has been utterly corrupted and many folk who have bought the minimal aesthetic have lost all connection with the ideology. They devote huge amounts of time, energy and money to creating the perfect minimal look without even seeing the irony.
It seems logical that ideology and aesthetic are linked: flamboyant, extravert people are likely to have flamboyant extravert taste. Nostalgics are likely to surround themselves with memorabilia, conservatives and traditionalist are likely to reject the cutting edge of modernism, nihilists are likely to reject convention. That said, in the same way as the ideology behind minimalism has long been forgotten we live in an increasingly aesthetic world where taste can change like the seasons with fashion, with celebrity, with increasing social pressures. Aesthetics become more and more superficial and detached from ideology. But what is lost is aesthetic authenticity.
Why is this of any interest to marketers, admen and brand strategists? Well, it applies to brands too. Successful brands know who they are, what they stand for, what they believe in and what their purpose is. In short they have a brand ideology. And this drives their aesthetic, so their marketing and communications stays true to the brand and remains authentic. The day they wake up and start simply borrowing their look and feel and tone and style from whatever happens to be in fashion, by whatever they hear in research groups or whatever the current taste of their marketing director happens to be then all authenticity is lost.
It may sound pretentious but I think one of the most important questions a business should ask is. Does our brand have an ideology and if so, do we have an aesthetic that fits with it?