Medieval Marketing©

We’ve all seen movies where knights go into battle – shields raised, horses charging, and retainers following. The shields, the soldiers’ armor, the retainers’ tunics, the horses’ armor all bear the knight’s coat of arms. The purpose of the coat of arms is obvious and straightforward. You want to be able to identify friend and foe quickly and accurately.

This is called branding and identity.

There are very few modern women who have not, at some point, muttered about the sadist who thought up high-heeled shoes.  Ever wonder how the fashion started? They were “invented” in Renaissance Italy.  And yes, ladies, they were specifically designed to be dysfunctional.  A woman who wore high-heeled shoes was a living, wincing, embodiment of the fact that her husband was affluent enough to support a non-working wife.

This is called positioning.

The great Gothic cathedrals of Europe are major tourist attractions largely because of their stained glass windows.  Often taking years to create, they are exquisite illustrations of key biblical stories.  Each window was designed to illuminate and reinforce a particular point, a significant element that the Church wanted people to remember as they sat in awe as the light streamed through the glass and created an ever-changing visual experience.

This is called attention-getting communications.

Before there were MBA’s, before there were marketing guru’s, before there were marketing “models” and marketing jargon, there was a need to easily identify important people, organizations, and ideas and to quickly communicate their position and key messages to everyone else.

Things haven’t changed that much.

Given the chaos of today’s economic battlefield, companies need to be quickly and easily identifiable or they will get lost in the melee. Given the ever-increasing competitive crowd, companies need positioning that makes them stand out from across the room. Given today’s information overload, companies need communications that both attract the eye and stimulate the mind.

Things haven’t changed that much.

Let’s remember the lessons of medieval marketing.  Companies today are either the knights leading the battle or the serfs fervently hoping not to get trampled.

8 thoughts on “Medieval Marketing©

  1. Hi Emily,

    Clever way to explain branding, positioning and communications.

    While those tactics are still vitally important, I wonder what some of those coats of arms would look like with a QR code working into the design?


  2. Great metaphors! A couple years ago I tried to explain to my father the difference between sales and marketing (he’s a retired engineer and sales & marketing were one & the same in his world). I used hunting dogs & snipers to explain the functions and differences. It worked for lead generation and sales enablement, but not as well for other disciplines… Thank you for this!

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