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

Monday, June 11, 2007

Commercial: From brands to apps and back

A thought which emerged last night, while wrestling with notions of what will make a truly great brand in this century, and refined while having a look at Bubblegeneration this morning.

The insight came from thinking about various facebook applications, and why they are working. As a rough rule of thumb, you could argue that an app is great because it allows the discovery and manipulation of information and data (especially about peoples's economic and social behavioural preferences), while having the following characteristics:

- it is scalable (it can handle an ever increasing data set)
- it is socialising (people can find people though it, as well as display themselves)
- it is sharable (people use it in a way that demands that its true utility is only released when friends and others use it too)
- it is sticky (it is the best app for its particular task).

These, when examined more closely, are also values that a good brand should have:

- scalable (works in all medias and channels, with idea and identity remaining intact, or with a high degree of integrity)
- socialising (people want to be seen with or using the brand)
- sharable (people become ambassadors for the brand, evangelising about it and encouraging people to use it)
- sticky (no other brand works for that person in fulfilling that task).

Add to this the key foundation that the app/brand should be useful (or contain 'utility', to use Rory Sutherland's word - focused on the user) and the key topping that the brand should convey an 'emotional' idea or hook, and you start to have the makings of a road map to great 21st century brands.

There are other factors to consider, such as: those around brands being more porous and flexible, and not being locked into one monolithic identity, so that they can work within and without wider networks; gaining of attention; responses to constant monitoring; and ease of interaction.

But the hunch is that the world-beating companies of the next few years will be those whose brands, apps, services and products display those four 's' characteristics while innovating around the way in which data is handled (widely defined to include digitised media/cultural products), to allow 'connection' between disparate people.

PS: The above ties into Russell Davies' thoughts on why it's vital that we find new thinking and approaches to connecting customers to products, services and companies.

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