is your brand a moth or a butterfly?

i was reading Faris' blog, as i usually do, when i came across his post regarding The Moth, a slam-style storytelling circle in NY and LA. apart from the fact that it's bloody awesome (and that i will probably go to the Nuyorican showing), it got me thinking about moths and butterflies--a motif that has been following me for months now.

"the founders felt was analogous to:
the characters in their best stories would often find themselves drawn to some bright light—of adventure, ambition, knowledge—but then find themselves burned or trapped, leaving them with some essential conflict to face before the story could reach its conclusion."

the moth represents conflict with the world. it is the self which both loves and yearns. like the butterfly, it too forms a cocoon and transforms itself, but that is not what it has come to symbolize. the moth is about the tension of reconciliation; the struggle for understanding with the exterior world and our place in it.

the butterfly represents conflict with oneself. the symbolic butterfly is about the personal journey, the thing one must undergo in order to develop into our full potential. it is an interior search. the butterfly becomes a symbol of freedom and beauty once the insect emerges. the story ends there.

the one, emphasis on the interactive journey; the other, emphasis on the personal journey. i identify a lot with moths in that regard, but i also came to think about it in terms of creative, and in terms of advertising. for a long time, advertising has been the butterfly. it has been about the personal, transformative journey of the brand. it is this point of view which expects others to love simply out of the respect and beauty of this journey.

this brand has not yet tried to find its place in the world. it has not reconciled itself to interaction, to the space outside of its own head. some advertising is handling brands like moths, are pursuing that tension between self and other, and are fostering those spaces. they are telling the stories not about themselves, but about connections.

in this way, moth branding is more accessible. it asks me to identify with our common spaces, rather than identify with your personal journey. i am not going to like you because you are a heap big 60 year old auto company that has survived through the years and shown your mettle; i will identify with you on my own terms, the ones that show the light of you and i.

but, like the moth, there will be tension. we are experiencing this now, with words like monetization, cashification, viral, social, what have you. we are trying to find our way through this jungle. advertising is romancing the light. only some will get burned. some will have never tried at all.

[photo shown left: Blue's Creative Outlet, specializing in funky moth & butterfly jewelry]


faris said...

i like this.

am I a man dreaming he is a butterfly, or a moth dreaming he is a man?

I went to storyslam last night - about secrets.

I'm in London for the grandslam [grr] but I'll meet you at the one after - 29th!


the girl Riot™ said...


are you going to be away for the September 9th one? i didn't think that was the grand slam. i love the Nuyorican, itching to be at that showing.


PS >> i think at times it helps to be a bit of both. after all, that's what symbols do: help us to understand, and use them at our whim to do so. why not let them work for you? ;)