Monday, March 16, 2009

Have we learned yet - Brands need hunter-gatherers

The idea that a brand is a promise of an experience to come; an experience past and a special form of cultural magic is re-emerging from the stupor of civilisation as we have known it for five thousand years.

Elizabeth Albrycht, in her June post "Brands as Media: Platforms for Value Creation" put forward the idea that brands are changing because of a "shift in technology and audience expectations is driving a major evolution in marketing, which, at least initially, is leading companies to develop, purchase and/or maintain/support media properties, be they online forums, blogs, and social networks. (This is already starting to result in brands competing with traditional media, the very places they have supported by their advertising over the past decades. With large consumer products companies in better financial shape than media companies, this might result in some odd marriages in the next few years.)"

She follows Haque who posits that "traditional branding activities, especially advertising, imposes costs on consumers. Costs of interrupted attention, time spent waiting for a TV show to resume, polluted visual fields in cities and countrysides, and so on. Culturally, consumers are now expressing their increasing resentment of these costs and refusing to pay them (and technology is giving them ever more tools to easily do so)."

This suggests that brands are morphing and are taking on new rolls and capabilities.

Brand marketing without push advertising, heavily PR dependent consumer journalists and blinding Point of Sale is a strange beast.

It moves towards a community experience, part of the gossip communities indulge in and leavened by a capability for the community to cluster round the best gossips, the best informed gossips and the most enabled (RSS) gossips in the world.

These are people.
Real people.

They are the top hunter gatherers of the 21st century and they contribute to the tribe as part of the community.

In their rituals they seek the information that the gods of technology offer them and interpret these oracles to in a conversation with their community.

Some are so good that people flock to their communities from many other tribes, who in turn spread the word.

We seek them out as mankind did for tens of thousands of years before agriculture produced enough ears of wheat for communities to build settlements, markets and inventories.

These people have to work with the grain of the community. They need to be of the community and their expression of the brand has to compete within the daily chatter of the community as it forages.

To shout out a brand message disturbs the community. If it has value it will become part of the community's conversation and culture but if it has no meaning it becomes culturally disruptive at a social cost to the perpetrator.

In this technology fuelled era, we are seeing echoes of mankind's almost lost past.

Image: Hunter Gatherer Wiki.