Thursday, June 11, 2009

"A brand is a small town that never sleeps."

I read that line in the middle of a marvelous article, "Wanted: Chief Meaning Officer" by Tim Leberecht, and just had to pluck it out and give it a spotlight. If you have the time, read the whole thing. If not, here's a quick takeaway:

The advent of the social web has disrupted traditional marketing conventions and has democratized the concept of branding. The truth is, a brand is no longer exclusively the bastion of marketing. In today’s open-sourced, hyper-transparent economy, customers own the brand, and no platform, book, or rigid compliance guidelines designed to protect marketers’ idea of that brand can change this. You cannot control your brand anymore, period.

A brand is a small town that never sleeps. It is open to (almost) everyone, it is vibrant, and it is made of and by people who are willing to connect in pursuit of either utilitarian value or a common cause — or both. It is composed of myriad social networks, micro-communities that communicate 24/7. Companies that embrace this new continuum and act as “brand urbanites” will easily adapt to the new digital arena. Chief meaning officers recognize that in the Cluetrain Manifesto world of marketing, the brand belongs to everyone and everyone is the brand. But they also understand that this is their big chance to reconcile brand polyphony with a recognizable brand personality. Brands can be either the subject of conversations or the host of conversations moderated by brand advocates and attractors. It is the chief meaning officer’s job to design, enable, facilitate, and curate these conversations and make them as meaningful as possible. If brands don’t have a point of view, they won’t be able to connect. If they don’t have an argument to make, they won’t be meaningful. Brands need to be well-traveled, well-read, and educated. If they only repeat the same message again and again, they won’t be able to engage in a conversation.

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