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June 07, 2010

The Value of Meaning


You can get a brand new baseball, good for throwing, catching, and hitting, officially endorsed by Major League Baseball, on Amazon.

As of this moment, they sell for $17.75

Babe Ruth hit the first ever home run in an All-Star game. We still know where that ball is. Due to its age, it's probably less suitable for throwing, catching, and hitting, and Major League Baseball would never use it again in a game.

According the Forbes Magazine, this ball is worth $805,000.

Through a physical inspection, the new ball is far superior to the older ball. Yet the older ball is worth more because it has meaning to the people who care about baseball's history.

It is more than information; it is both a story unto itself and a small part of the story of one of the games greatest legends. 

Meaning is not limited to collectibles. Marketing is replete with examples, but so are user interfaces. In both cases, failing to make meaning with intent can result in a failure for the project. In the first case, you're ignored, which is bad enough considering the costs of some of these efforts. In the second, you can be ignored ... OR you can annoy your target audience by failing to give a clear path that leads to the completion of the user's intent. 

Likewise, brands have value commensurate with the meaning people give it. The channels you use to connect with your audiences can be stories to themselves as well as be part of the overall story of the brand.

Whatever limitations keep you from doing what you really want to do, never take the responsibility lightly. - Cam Beck

For further reading on this topic, check out Making Meaning and Personality Not Included.


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I agree with the comment that our lives are about to change. Global warming, our oil addiction, etc demands change´╗┐ or death. Evolution demands change. Its up to us to change for the positive.

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