Being Beta

Exercises in the higher banter with One of 26. Elsewhere called 'poet of adland'. By a whipple-squeezer. Find out why being beta is the new alpha: betarish at googlemail dot com

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

A call, and a farewell, to arms

The farewell first: Top of the Pops, at least in its TV incarnation, will take its leave of us this summer, not entirely unexpectedly. It never adjusted to a world where the UK singles chart mattered less, and fluctuated with giddy rapidity; it never recovered from being shifted from Thursday night to Friday night, and up against the formidable competition of Coronation Street. But the brand should live on. One presumes the magazine will continue to exist, and the format (and indeed the name) has been exported to TV markets around the world. And I suspect it will have a life/rebirth in the web 2.0/user-generated content world that Auntie is moving into. A MyTOTP channel in the interactive media player? It's not beyond the bounds of either credibility or possibility.

And the call: Mark Hurst of Good Experience is one of the leading advocates of why focusing on customers, and the experience that they have with an organisation or a brand, will lead to benefits both to the customer and the organisation. This week he has posted an insightful piece about the top-down nature of branding projects, and as to why the future is more of an organic, bottom-up one.

It was a piece that chimed with a lot of my thoughts: I'm really interested as in whether it is possible to construct a brand (brand model/promise) in an 'open source' way, thereby circumventing the traditional agency model. It has also sparked a lot of interesting comments and feedback, especially from Andreas Forsland of Philips. Mine two-pennorth reproduced below. Apologies for the grammatical infelicity: listening to England subside in Germany does that to one's typing...

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Mark's passionate call to arms recalled my own reasons for moving downstream from corporate branding a year ago.

Developing a promise, and aligning the organisation and then the market with it are important (and on the projects I worked on we rarely tried to put the promise into the market in the language that it had been written in for internal consumption - we wanted to try and 'trigger the thought' amongst people instead.)

But our primary client was the executive suite, and often in balancing their agendas, we lost sight of the consumer.

I found that the more exciting part of the process was taking a promise, and trying to interpret it: what does 'beyond petroleum' mean in terms of the way that a client behaves, the products offered, the way services are organised. It's not a discipline that traditional brand agencies, let alone ad agencies, are well placed to think about and deliver.

In a way that executive was right: you do have to take the promise and deliver it consistently through all channels. But Mark is right too: the definition of what are considered as 'channels' have to be widened.

It's not just about delivering the promise through communication touchpoints - it's about delivering it through all touchpoints.

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