I’m involved in an interesting informal “Brand 2.0 Master Class” over at Innovation Playground. The question we’re all wrestling with is what “Brand” is now with the numerous changes in the consumer culture. For those of you who have not encountered formalized definitions of “brand”, here is a pretty good sample from the Wikipedia entry:
“A brand often includes a logo, fonts, color schemes, symbols, and sound, which may be developed to represent implicit values, ideas, and even personality.”
Though this may initially seem a bit of a stretch, i think there is something here which is of direct applicability to this class, and on which i would love to get your opinions: I think that, where the values, ideas and personality of a brand were previously dictated, proliferated and steered by the producer of a product or service through mass media advertising, they are now in large part dictated, proliferated and steered by customers (in aggregate, one might call them a “culture”), who might be considered a new medium for brand, since it is their newly-augmented mass communications and collaborations that both spread and shape (though i tend to think that the latter outpaces the former) the meaning of a product or service. If these connected people are acting as a medium in this way, then according to McLuhan, they are also the message.
Logical Inference 1: in the age of mass participation (especially digitally facilitated), a product’s “Brand” is in large part its customer community, and not so much the celebrities that endorse it or its clever messaging or its color scheme.
And now to shamelessly quote myself:
“..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.” Christian Briggs, 2007 – comment on blog post “What Are the Major Challenges For Brand Today?“
Inference 3 (and this is where it gets important for this class): It is the “Interaction Culture” which has created this shift – that has empowered people as a medium. Those who study this culture will become fluent in the language of the medium, and perhaps will even be the linguists who help to shape the nature of the medium itself by providing a space of possible ways the medium in turn shapes the Interaction Culture.