Becoming A Network Citizen

The network is the value. While for network businesses such as Facebook, Skype or Foursquare this statement is a dearly held truth, its a much more nascent concept when it comes to brands more broadly.

In fact, for most, the network value mindset is actually the opposite of how they have traditionally built brands. The reasons for this are fairly simple. As Brad Burnham from Union Square ventures has observed, brands are used to having preferred status on the networks they inhabit – essentially paying for super-node status across a hierarchical media landscape.

This apparent power created a mindset of controlling the network rather than fitting within it. The challenge now is that todays Internet enabled networks tend to be flat rather than hierarchical. To borrow from Mr. Burnham’s comparison, the new networks are closer to the phone network than the TV network. As a result, the shift of customers and brands to these new networks necessitates a very different kind of brand behavior.

From observation, it appears that brand value tomorrow will stem less from how well you control the network and more from how effectively you fit within it and enable the behavior of its other citizens.

This fundamental shift, from marketing as control-the-network to marketing as enable-the-network is what I’d refer to as becoming a Network Citizen.

When we consider the scale and speed of the consumer shift from the old hierarchical networks toward these new flat networks, I believe effective network citizenship may well come to represent the future of marketing.

In becoming a network citizen, there are three areas that I believe will become critical:

  1. Creating value by increasing and strengthening the connections between the nodes in your network.
    Within the new network environments, it appears that strengthening the connections sits atop a foundation of mutual exchange. Whether this is Starbucks asking customers to help them with incremental quality improvements through mystarbucksidea.com or Innocent Drinks who use social channels to promote content created by their customers. Here, mutual exchange of content between brand owner and brand consumer appears to both strengthen connections and increase the number of nodes in your network. In terms of content forms, there appears to be two common types. Either content that is created in order to be mutually shared (e.g. YouTube clips) or content that represents conversation and question answering (e.g. customer service via Twitter)
  2. Creating value by contributing to the issues that people naturally build community around
    It is much rarer than brands think that community will be formed by their customers around them. Instead, community appears to form more densely around peoples issues of interest. For example, rather than a community forming around Tylenol, you’re much more likely to find one forming around a related issue such as acute back pain. In this environment, brands have a tremendous opportunity to fit within the network and enable people’s interest in the issue. In the case of Tylenol and acute back pain, they could strengthen the network through providing a combination of established and emerging thought leadership on back pain and pain management. This generosity of knowledge has two effects. First it creates legitimacy of Tylenol within the network, which strengthens its bonds. Second, it gives Tylenol the permission to directly interact with that consumer around future product innovation requirements. In the short term, while Tylenol is unlikely to be a solution for acute back pain, their enablement within the network strengthens their customer bond and makes Tylenol more likely to be used for that customers other pain needs. (Such as a headache)
  3. Creating value by abiding by the unwritten rules of the network and being generous with its other members
    Every environment within the new networks have different unwritten rules. I don’t want brands spamming my Wall on Facebook, and I don’t want them filling my Twitter feed with needless messages about how good they are. Being generous and fitting within the unwritten rules of a flat network is a key aspect of Network Citizenship. Already for some brands, the boundaries between brand and customer are beginning to blur as customers increasingly participate in the activities of the brand itself, creating a real-time relationship effect with these customers.

All of these ways of behaving, of course, run contrary to the traditional controlling and campaining mentality that defined the old reality of marketing-as-network-control. I’d argue that this is a major reason why the ROI on social media advertising has been patchy at best. It’s simply not a medium built for such campaigns. Instead these flat networks appear to be much more effective at building ongoing relationships that sit atop a foundation of mutual exchange.

Ultimately, if harnessed correctly, the shift toward network citizenship has the potential to create a new generation of brands for whom network participation has blurred quite deeply the traditional divides between brand owner and brand consumer, and in the process re-framed the idea of brand loyalty for the 21st century. At its most powerful becoming a Network Citizen has the potential to create significant competitive advantage, where the strength of a brands network drive both loyalty and recommendations, and creates an incredibly strong emotional barrier to switching.

Products, Ventures & What I Learned

Prior to leaving Wolff Olins, two of our long running discussions related to the importance of product and technology relative to brand and the need for the agency to experiment with new business models beyond the traditional project/billable time mentality.

Although these were generally two separate conversations, there were some of us who believed quite fundamentally that the gap between product, brand and technology is narrowing and that in the future only cohesive experiences that connect these dots will win.

Rather than continue to talk about it, we decided to do something about it and experiment with creating something for ourselves rather than for a specific client.

We called the program “Project Venture”, and recently the first product from this approach was launched. Whtespace is a collaborative email journal designed to help people curate and navigate the web. It’s really great and you should check it out.

However, rather than get into the details of the product itself I thought I’d write about some of the learnings that came out of the initial process, which might help others considering a similar approach.

The overall hypothesis that we worked from was that we could identify an idea for a new digital product/business and a founding team from within Wolff Olins. That we could then coach and fund this team to quickly create a product, which we could then launch into the world in order to understand whether or not it would be viable. If viable, we’d then investigate potentially attracting further funding or maybe even sell it to someone.

This is what I learned:

1. Put learning at the heart
There’s no guarantee that anything you create will make any money. 75% of all new products fail, less than 5% of all startups succeed. With those kind of odds stacked against you, there has to be an inherent value beyond making money. For us, the experience of identifying a potential product, building it and getting it out into the world was an incredible learning opportunity. It was a chance to put theory into practice and gain a deeper understanding of some of our clients issues. Putting this at the heart, rather than a revenue target, freed the process up and took a tremendous amount of pressure off of what was essentially an experiment. We simply didn’t know what the final output would look like. This isn’t to say that we didn’t want to do something that would make money, we did. We just didn’t put undue pressure on it having to succeed straight off the bat. I’m glad we did that, and I think the product is better for it.

2. People generally aren’t entrepreneurs just waiting to be released
There is an easy to make, but flawed assumption, that people in creative businesses are inherently entrepreneurial and that they just need the right opportunity to release it into the world.

The truth is rather more complicated. Rather than having a drawer full of business ideas waiting to be brought out, we instead found that although people were excited they were also quite intimidated. They were concerned that their ideas perhaps weren’t very good, or that they didn’t know how to be entrepreneurial.

To get past this, we created a very simple brief:

“What is a problem in your life that you think needs to be solved?”

We weren’t asking people to figure out the next Google or Facebook, but we did want them to think about things they’d like to see improved in their own life.

3. Coaching beats competition
In our original plan, we wanted to do things in a very pure startup and VC kind of way. We wanted people to come up with ideas that they would then have to “pitch” to a venture board. Because of point 2 above, we quickly realized that we’d have to abandon this approach. Instead of “pitching” ideas we instead created drop-in casual advice sessions where people or teams could discuss their ideas and be coached in how to tweak them into something really interesting.

After a few weeks of these coaching sessions we had six groups who felt they had really good ideas they wanted to share with the rest of the office. At that point, we turned their five-minute pitch presentations into a bit of fun and asked everyone viewing for anonymous views on their preference.

While a small venture board (made up of people from different seniority levels from most junior to most senior) made the final decision, everyone got to participate in this entire stage of the process.

4. Get help
Wolff Olins weren’t a digital product development company, so we had fairly limited capabilities when it came to building a product and keeping everything under control. To help, we reached out to the very nice folks over at Prehype. Their approach meant that we could deliver the coaching sessions, and focus not just an idea with commercial potential but also something we could build in a very lean way with a limited financial commitment.

Getting this kind of outside help was also beneficial in other ways. It gave an honest broker aspect to the process, gave us new and different insights and created a learning and coaching environment for skills that we didn’t already have.

5. Make everything as clear as you can upfront
As we started the process, there were some areas we didn’t have answers to. The biggest was the question of who owned what and who would benefit if it made any money. Unfortunately, we had some unanticipated accounting and financial issues here that really held up getting to a definitive answer (Which to be honest, I’m not really qualified to get in to).

The net result, unfortunately, was a lack of clarity to people in the organization around what they’d get out of it should their idea be chosen. I guess its human nature to assume you have a multi-million dollar idea even if the chances of its success are extremely low!

If doing it over again, I’d recommend being clear upfront about who owns what, and also be clear that the value proposition to the employee isn’t just about what they get out of it financially, but also the learning they get from what the agency is putting in.

In our case, Wolff Olins was funding the process, the employee time, the Prehype assistance, a development budget and some financial support for running the business post-launch.

Effectively, this was a zero risk proposition to the employee, with the opportunity for the winning team to learn from top digital product people how to get something new out into the world.

I think the overall driver of success though lay how flexible we were. When things weren’t working we changed them, creating an extremely positive experience in the process. We learned a lot, we had six really great ideas to choose from, and the one which was chosen has turned into a really interesting version 1 product.

I know that Wolff Olins intends to continue doing more of this in the future, and that everyone involved has learned tremendously about how to align brand and product in a new way.

I’m certainly very proud of everyone who participated. I know that I learned a lot, and I really look forward to Whtespace having great success in the future.

Image borrowed from http://www.whtespace.com

You Still Own Your Brand. Best Act That Way

Contrary to popular opinion your brand doesn’t belong to your customer it belongs to you. No, seriously it really does. Just ask your finance team. I’m pretty sure they’ll tell you it’s an asset of the business. A powerful and valuable one at that.

This isn’t to say that how your brand lives in the world isn’t changing fundamentally. It is. And this isn’t meant to be a tongue in cheek statement. I’m deadly serious. You should be too. Because if you really believe that your brand belongs to your customer you might just start abdicating responsibility for your brand. And doing that will lead to nothing but trouble.

Now I don’t blame people for thinking like this. As the world inverts and connected technologies become cheaper and more ubiquitous, your customer is doing three things they couldn’t do before:

  1. They’re accessing more information about you and about what you are selling than ever before.
  2. They’re talking to each other about you and what you are selling, without necessarily including you in the conversation
  3. They’re creating media by and for themselves, faster, cheaper and to a higher standard of quality than ever before (HD video and editing on an iPhone anyone?)

Combine these factors and you begin to see the brand landscape we’re seeing all around us. One where people “hi-jack” brands, bad-mouth, celebrate them or choose to co-opt them for their own purposes.

Fantastic. You should be thrilled. At least people are paying attention. (And believe me, there are a lot of brands out there who’d love to be noticed let alone be talked about)

The reality is that while you used to have to do everything for yourself (with assistance from your agencies and media partners), today you don’t.

If treated well, your customer will do a lot of work for you. Gladly. And for free.

This doesn’t give them ownership of the brand, although it will hopefully make them closer to it. Your job is still to call the shots and decide what the brand will actually do and the direction it will take. It’s also your job to create the context and perhaps the platforms upon which your customers can better participate.

While you can’t dictate what your customer will say about you (and in fact never could), you can decide how you will use what they say about you.

This self-determination is the critical difference between the “customer is in charge” philosophy and mine. Why?  Because I truly believe that brands who abdicate responsibility for leading their customers will become nothing more than the passive victims of their customers. And as a result, they will fail.

Once you get past the volatility of change, the truth is that brands today have more levers of influence over their customer than they’ve ever had. They’re just new levers that need to be thought of a little differently. Three of these are below:

1. Active Listening
Technology that enables you to listen in on your customer and how they’re reacting to your brand is evolving rapidly.  We’re almost at the point where you can have as much or as little detail as you like. The real value in listening isn’t of course in the listening. Instead it’s in the actions you choose to take after listening. If you subscribe to the “customer is in charge” school then you run the risk of constantly putting out fires and reacting to all of your customers all of the time. Even the one’s who disagree with each other. Your job shouldn’t be to do that. Instead, it should be to actively listen and respond in ways that push forwards in the direction of your brand. Not to ignore people, but simply to lead them and navigate this new environment.

2. Crowdsourcing
Crowdsourcing can either be a fantastic tool or a terrible disaster depending on how it is used. The real value isn’t so much in the answers that come back, but rather in the brief you create and how well you curate these answers. This simple fact means crowdsourcing is in no way an exercise where the “customer decides”. The customer clearly isn’t deciding. You are. The customer is giving you options, viewpoints and potential answers all based upon your direction, and from which you get to choose. Done well, this is very powerful. Done poorly, you risk lurching from one seemingly random suggestion to the other.

3. Platforms for action
If your customer likes to create as well as consume, then why not give them the platform to do this? Again, you decide what this platform will be and the context in which it will work. The customer decides what they will do with it. I’m an unabashed fan of Demoslam from Google, but there are many examples of creating platforms, which allow greater consumer participation. Nike+ in running or the much heralded Pepsi Refresh campaign to name just two. In all cases, you decide on the platform and the ‘rules’ of engagement. The customer decides whether and how to engage.

If you think of your brand as a universe, then you get to decide the physics, make up, characters and overall plotlines within that universe. If your customer likes this universe, and it sparks their imaginations, they can then participate and decide how the stories will get played out.

Of course if they don’t like the universe then you’ll know about it: bad service, crappy products, lame advertising and poor experiences have the same effect as inconsistent characters, weak storylines and confusing physics. But then these are things you shouldn’t be doing anyway.

So to finish, please stop thinking that the customer is in charge. They’re not. Please stop thinking you have few levers of influence over them. You actually have many. And finally, please stop thinking that you have little self-determination. Because if you get it right, you’re absolutely the one calling the shots.

Just ask Apple.

 

Image borrowed from:

 

Branding In An Inverted World

Thinking about the landscape for brand building today is a bit like looking at an upside down map of the world. There are lots of things you already know about it. Countries, continents, oceans and seas, but at the same time everything looks quite unfamiliar.

Navigating this new and inverted world means you have to look at things very differently and try to understand the forces that are driving the change.

One of these forces is so fundamental that it actually enables many others. I describe it as being where the traditional information asymmetries have been inverted.

Put more simply, while we as individuals used to have less information than brand owners, today we often have more.

Intuitively we all know the truth in this. For an easy example, just think about how buying a car has been transformed in recent years. Most car buyers today walk into the car dealership with more knowledge of the car they are considering than the dealer does – from how powerful the engine is, to how reliable it should be, to the best pricing deals within a 20 mile radius, to how many of their friends think it’s a great car.

What is less understood is that this traditional information asymmetry has in fact been the foundation of the past 50 years or so of marketing activity and brand thinking.

In the past, the cost of information was high in terms of both time and money. Today it is free. When the cost of information is high, you’re not likely to search it out very often. This reality created the concept of the sales funnel. This foundational assumption holds that a consumer has only a limited number of brands they are likely to consider for any purchase. Depending on the value and emotional significance of said purchase, they will only conduct deeper information searches within this pre-existing consideration set. If we use our car example, the assumption would be that a consumer might only consider from within a subset of the total choices on offer at their price-point and car type, for example Chevy, Dodge, Ford, Chrysler and Toyota and as a result, exclude such brands as Honda, Hyundai, Volkswagon or BMW.

In this world the use of advertising spend and promotion creates a barrier to entry and an exclusionary force preventing new brands from entering the consideration set. Historically, having this power has at times allowed inferior products from better known (and hence considered) brands to triumph over superior products from lesser known (and hence not considered) brands.

However, as David Edelman noted in the Harvard Business Review the assumed funnel no longer exists. Instead the consumer today is constantly flexing their consideration choices throughout the purchase process, sometimes increasing the number of considered brands, sometimes decreasing them, and sometimes changing their minds at the very last minute. He calls this new mode of purchase the Consumer Decision Journey, and the article is well worth a read.

When Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures stated that “I believe that marketing is what you do when your product or service sucks” I’d say it was this old world that is currently breaking down that he was describing.

Living in an inverted world where the information search is free and the traditional sales funnel no longer exists means brands now need to consider some very different things:

1. That loyalty is something to be earned daily
It isn’t that consumers have intrinsically become less loyal. Instead, the elimination of cost (in money and time) from the information search has increased their consideration of other brands with potentially superior products. In this world a brand owner needs to consider what they can do for that customer to earn their loyalty on a daily basis, and not simply assume that past purchase behavior will translate into the future.

It’s no surprise that Apple, Amazon and Zappo’s (who Amazon purchased) have created rabidly loyal customers at exactly the same time as other have bemoaned the decline in loyalty. In each case, their strategies for earning loyalty have focused on consistently delighting their customer. For Apple, this is through building innovative and desirable new products supported by Applecare,  iTunes and the App Store. For Amazon and Zappo’s, this has been through superior customer service and customer relationship management.

2. That inferior products, no matter how strong the brand, won’t succeed
Just ask GM and Chrysler. The days when an inferior product from a better known brand could win over a potentially superior product from a lesser known brand are over forever. Without the Internet, it’s unlikely that brands such as Vizio or Hyundai could have so radically and quickly disrupted existing markets and consumer considerations sets. But they did, and it will happen again to anyone who isn’t focused intently on continuous product and service innovation.

3. That you need to consider the entirity of an increasingly non-linear sales path
The days of the sales funnel were relatively straightforward, and easy to map, particularly in terms of when and where people fell out of the funnel and what you needed to do to become more relavent relative to your competition. In fact sales funnel analysis was (and still is) a staple offer from many marketing consultancies.

Today, we’ve swapped a linear funnel for an often highly non-linear ( and sometimes seemingly completely irrational) decision making journey.

In this world, all channels of communication and of information search, particularly the explosion of digital one’s that exist around the brand become incredibly important.

Today, for example, it may be that having someone providing customer service on a major 3rd party product-category forum be a more important driver of final sale than any of your traditional marketing communications.

Image borrowed from: http://www.geeksix.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/upside-down-world-map2.gif

Learning From Groupon

 

 

 

 

Yesterday Groupon chose to pull their advertising campaign. Just five days after the Superbowl, CEO Andrew Mason posted an admirably honest and sincere retraction of their ads, where he chose to take personal responsibility for running them in the first place.

While many found their Superbowl advertising to be offensive (myself included) there are a set of very interesting dynamics that may have been happening which I think many, especially startup businesses, can learn from.

When you look at young companies they are rarely concerned with their brand. In fact, in many cases brand has become a five letter swear word. Instead, these businesses tend to be laser focused on getting their product right and getting it out there. As a result, the underlying narrative of the company tends to be a highly personal one – focused on the founding partners, their backgrounds, the opportunity they spotted and why they are doing what they are now doing.

Because so few startup businesses actually succeed (some estimates suggest that less than 5% make it through their first year) this personal narrative also tends to be both highly emotional and highly self-centric. Which shouldn’t really be a surprise.  When the likelihood of failure is so high, you pretty much have no other option but to take on the arrogance of an “us versus the world” mentality.

As such a business grows, and Groupon has grown amazingly quickly, the narrative has to shift from a founder-centric, introverted one to a company-centric, external one. Instead of being about “me and my product” the narrative has to shift to being about “us and our brand”, where the “us” isn’t just the company and the people who work there, but the shared “us” with the customer.

This shared “us” is where Groupon failed. Instead of focusing on the very real customer value inherent in their business model, they were instead talking to themselves through an  in-joke based upon a very personal (but not particularly relevant to the customer) narrative related to their original founding.

Unfortunately, this set the tone for the personality of Groupon as a brand. Up until this point Groupon as a brand has been largely silent to the bulk of people in the world. The value inherent in the product has been doing all the talking. As a result,  they now have to combat the new sense that Groupon is arrogant and self-centered rather than a true advocate for customer value.

So with all this in mind, what are the learnings that others can take?

1. As you grow, make sure that you consciously shift your own narrative from an introverted, founder-centric one, to an externally focused brand-centric one. Within this, ensure that you’re considering the shared notion of “us” with your customers rather than any sense that you might be against your customers. Achieving this means considering your brand as something much more important than a five letter swear word.

2. Don’t hire an advertising agency until you have a very strong sense of  the shared “us” that you want to get across. An external party such as an advertising agency will generally attempt to build from your narrative.  If this narrative is still a highly personal and introverted one, then agencies such as Crispin Porter & Bogusky (who did the Groupon campaign) and who are known for pushing the envelope anyway, will simply enhance what you already have with potentially disastrous consequences. Better for you to already understand the shared “us” before they begin, so that you have a customer-centric frame of reference from which to judge their work.

3. Seek advice from your customers. If you are growing and you find yourself in the incredibly fortunate position that Groupon find themselves in, then your customers almost certainly have a strong sense of what they already like you for (maybe even love you for). It isn’t hard to ask their views and invite them to participate. Amazon, for example have done a great job of asking customers to share their ideas for their Kindle advertising. Simply by asking and listening, you will learn a tremendous amount about what your customers think the shared “us” might be. At this point, your job is to curate these views and map them against what you want the “us” to be in order to create a definition.

4. Don’t be afraid to apologize if you get it wrong. The smartest move Groupon made is to issue a sincere and heartfelt retraction, taking personal responsibility for the mistake. No-one wants to offend their customers, but few business leaders actually have the balls to stand up and publicly apologize to them. This acknowledgement of human frailty is probably the single most important factor in Groupon eliminating the sense that it is an arrogant brand.

For Groupon, I believe this experience will actually be a highly positive one. They’ve learned in a highly personal, and no doubt painful way, how important brands are to their customers and how not to engage with these same customers. And after reading the CEO’s blog post, I highly doubt this will be an error they repeat twice.

Like This!

Why Positioning Must Evolve

Positioning has had a long and storied history. The original concept, like much strategic thinking (including the word strategy) came from the world of the military where armies would quite literally seek to take defensible positions from which to fight. The origins of modern positioning came from Jack Trout in the late 1960’s. And as Vijay Govindarajan and Chris Trimble note in their book “The Other Side of Innovation: Solving The Execution Challenge” the height of positioning as a business strategy came in the 1980’s, when businesses sought the creation of defensible positions from which to compete.

However, as they go on to note, strategic positioning started to unravel when it became apparent that no position is defensible in the long run. There will always be a competitor or substitute that will come along and destroy value. It is this fact that leads them to observe that modern day business strategies have increasingly moved from defense to offense, and in specific terms toward a dynamic approach focused on constantly innovating new sources of value. For two very successful proponents of exactly this approach just think Apple or Google.

However, while the thinking on business strategy has clearly evolved over time, it isn’t clear that the thinking on brand strategy has kept up. Instead of constant innovation, the idea of  how you “position” a brand has instead become locked into various static models that aren’t taking account of the same shifts.

Unfortunately, this means the way positioning is thought about today has three potentially fatal flaws:

  1. The positioning is almost always arrived at in the context of the existing competitive set
  2. The positioning almost always focuses on something that is “defensible” relative to this competitive set
  3. The positioning is almost always a static statement rather than a dynamic concept

The flaw is not only that nothing is defensible in the long run, but increasingly that businesses do not know who their competitors will be from one year to the next. As the business cycle has sped up and technology has massively decreased the costs of entry across many industries, new competitors are today springing up overnight.

If positioning is to survive as a strategic concept (and I believe that it should) then it needs to evolve beyond these three constraints. Instead of focusing around the competition, it should instead become much more focused on the customer. And beyond focusing on what the brand can defend, it should instead focus on what the brand can create. In order to achieve both of these things, the positioning should also be focused much more closely on the real underlying strengths of the business than is often the case.

In working with brands in the technology space who face radical, sometimes tectonic competitive shifts both faster and more regularly than other industries, I’ve found the following three things to be really helpful when considering a positioning (or re-positioning)

1. Define the role that the brand intends to play in the lives of its customer. Focus this more on relevance to the customer than differentiation from the existing competitive set. What is it about this brand that customers will find both enticing and energizing? Within this, think through the problems you will be solving for the customer and the pain points you will be taking away, and consider bringing the positioning much closer to a value proposition.

2. Define the experience the brand wishes to create. Beyond a product or a way of communicating, what will the experience of being a customer of this brand be like? What are the businesses own strengths and capabilities that will translate into experience innovation over time? Think of this experience less as a statement and more as a narrative.

3. Think of the positioning as a journey and not a destination. Rather than a static thought, work on what the narrative might become over time. Consider the direction the positioning suggests and the journey the brand will need to be on moving forwards. Think through the kinds of things a business like this might do in the future, and how the positioning will become a platform for this kind of change.

Like This!

Road image borrowed from http://www.milienzo.com/blogimages/roadahead.jpg

Building Marketing Products (Redux)

Henrik asked yesterday about my post on building marketing products. He asked the simple question of when a marketing product is valuable and when you might use one? And it’s a fair question to ask.

Where this approach seems to work best are where three things are happening:

  1. The market you’re in is intensely competitive
  2. There are many available substitutes and core product performance is commoditized
  3. Where loyalty is declining, and meaningful differentiation through traditional means is harder and harder to achieve

By imbuing the marketing of the brand with an additional layer of utility, you bring the product and the marketing of the product together in a way that has not previously been possible. Arguably, Pepsi Refresh is another example where a new form of emotional differentiation is being created within an intensely competitive environment.

So what is the value and who should be doing this?

I think the value, very simply, is in a new ability to make the core product more desirable than that of a competitor. Essentially by creating an additional layer of customer focused usefulness within the brand that is designed to complement and enhance the utility of the product (rather than the brand disconnecting from the product as sometimes happens).

Who should be doing this? Probably any marketer whose category dynamics are intensely competitive, increasingly commoditized and where loyalty and meaningful brand differentiation are either in decline or not where they need to be.

With so many categories facing exactly these challenges, I’d be surprised if we didn’t see an explosion of marketing products in 2011. Some of which might even become amazingly successful in their own right.

Like This!