The science that deals with matter, energy, motion and force.
I came across a fun TED talk recently, by Dan Cobley, about the parallels between physics and marketing. Dan's a marketing director at Google and very cleverly relates 4 principles of physics to marketing and branding.
First, Acceleration = Force/Mass. The more mass something has, the more force required to move it. The bigger the brand, the more time and money required to change its perception. (Or bad PR can do it for free...see #3 below.)
Next is Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle. You remember that one, right? I'm sure you recognized the equation above. It says that at the quantum level, it's impossible to distinguish between a wave and a particle because as soon as you observe it, the actual observation changes it. This is also known as the observer effect. Ever been in a focus group? Everyone eats healthy, right? Well, that's what they tell you.
Third, is the concept that Observation Can't Prove Anything, only disprove. Many theories are not technically proven, it's just that nobody has failed to disprove them. But, all it takes is one observation not consistent with the theory and wham, it's all over for that theory. Same goes for brands who have built their reputations over generations. Nothing is iron clad. One bad event and a brand can be tarnished beyond repair. How is BP's brand image bouncing back?
Finally, there's the concept that all systems are in an Increasing State of Entropy. In other words, things are coming apart. Cobley cites the democratization of brands in that the internet now allows consumers to influence brand trajectory. A brand is no longer controlled by a brand manager in a company. We own it. He believes this loss of control is a good thing if companies learn to embrace it and work with it, harnessing the power of the people.
I'd like to add one more to Dan's list: what goes up, must come down. Newton's Theory of Gravitation. Sometimes trends, companies, products and brands seem to skyrocket like a baseball heading out of the park. But gravity - or the reality of the markets, tastes and success - have a way of acting upon those objects of our desire. There is an inevitable peak and fall. Not if, but when. It's how companies handle those changes that defines whether they can keep things aloft and send them back up again. Sometimes they can. Often they can't.
So, what can we take away from a comparison of physics to marketing? We don't revolve around companies...brands should assume they revolve around customers. Observation is important, but not always accurate. Nothing is forever. And, things can change fast - maybe even at the speed of light.
Relatively speaking, of course.