Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Emerging Challenges for Brand

I just posted this in another location as part of a discussion on the major challenges today for "Business Strategy and Brand." I thought it might be interesting for folks here to read it as well:

One way that brand is changing (has changed already, i think) is that the relationship between brand and the transitive property is changing as a result of increased connectivity and the rise of popularity systems like Google's pagerank.

Okay, now that was quite a loaded sentence, but i think it's pretty straightforward once we get past the overblown vocabulary and into the practical concepts.

Before the social web came along and before traditional advertising started its freefall, the 'transitive property' was used by companies in the form of celebrity endorsements of brand, because hey, if Bill Cosby likes Jello and I like Bill Cosby, then surely i will like and buy Jello (this is the transitive property).

So formerly the relationship was:
[brand] to [endorser] to [consumer]

or more concretely:

[Jello] to [Bill Cosby and one or two friends] to [me]

Now, with the advent of the social web (now people can massively connect with each other) and the rise of the core idea of Google pagerank (something is good if lots of people like it, and those people are in turn liked by a lot of other people who are in turn liked by a lot of other people, etc..), the new relationship is:

[brand] to [hundreds of connected authorities on the brand] to [me]

or more concretely:

[Jello] to [the Jello customer community] to [me]

..So, i'm predicting that a major part of the new concept of brand is the community itself, which both explicitly (by promoting the brand through word of mouth) and implicitly (by acting as a sort of 'brand pagerank' that give the brand authority just by virtue of their involvement with it) constitute a major part of the brand.

So-called "marketers" in this new world will therefore need to be community builders - not by inclusion only, but also by empowerment. Customer involvement (a noble idea in its day) will have to evolve into customer empowerment, which will allow the community to do its work in building a large part of a trusted, vibrant brand.

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