Is Brand Engagement Desirable? Possible?

Last week Cam Beck wrote about the Myth of Brand Engagement, which he sees as the last thing your audience really wants. He starts with the strong claim that "The sad news is that your company's brand isn't nearly as important to your audience as it is to you." But, then he backs off and says that brand engagement is "...important, and it can be done". What's the real story? It turns out, Cam was right the first time. "Brand engagement" is a mistaken objective. What marketers really want is for the customer to experience and understand the value and distinctiveness of your product or service. They don't want to experience your company itself (a service company is a possible exception). The brand is important. But not as such. The brand should be a transparent medium whereby customers come to know and understand the product or service. Think of the brand as a well-placed, well-decorated window display. The point is not to see the display itself, the point is to see what is displayed. Good branding opens up a window, not just a clear view, but also the right perspective on the right objects. In this sense, the goal of branding is to be invisible. When it's working, no one even notices it. But, when it's not working, it becomes immediately noticable. Think of the display window. If it's clean, you hardly see it. But, if it's dirty or cracked, you see it immediately. I would go so far as to say that if customers are truly engaging directly with your brand (as such), then something is wrong. The less they see the medium, and the more they see the message, the better the branding.