What marketer isn’t tired of hearing how they no longer control their brands? They’re either tired of hearing it because they’ve bought into it in some capacity. Or they’re tired of hearing it because they stubbornly hold onto the notion that the brand is theirs and only they can define what it is and isn’t based on what they chose to say primarily through advertising.
Regardless of which end of that potential continuum one resides, I’d propose blowing up the control continuum. Instead, one should plot one’s self across a continuum of respect – as in how much respect you have for your customers.
I was toying w/ a quadrant approach vs. continuum, with control on the x and respect on the y. But thinking that through a bit further, I felt it a cop out.
I would venture to guess that the brands that reside on the most positive end of the respect continuum probably have the most loyal customers. In the final analysis – and especially in the current macro-economic environment – don’t we desire to have loyal customers? And if that is the case, if ceding control brings the ultimate result desired, plotting it is irrelevant.
Besides, we do enough over-complicating in this industry as it is. Didn’t want to muck up The Golden Rule with The Control Freak Corollary.
That said, this isn’t a pure open source advocacy to managing a brand. I do not believe UGC, crowdsourcing and their ilk replace the need for brand standards. However, I do believe the vast rabble of ‘You’, that person of the year just a couple of years ago, is continuously changing how s/he interacts w/ and what s/he expects from brands. In spite of all the philosophizing I’ve read of late about what the original intent of certain platforms were and what they should become by those in the know, and in spite of the fear of ceding control by those not in the know, that is associated w/ the increased ease of two way media (call it social if you please), people are out there using these things. Not being there is not a choice for any brand anymore. Whether we pay for it via advertising or whether we build experiences on the platforms or whether we have staff dedicated to lurk and/or engage, we’re all there. You can’t control what people talk about or where they chose to talk about it – be it in physical or digital places.
And that is OK. I can respect that.