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Branding Now, 10 Dos, 10 Don'ts


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This is the deck I gave May 21, 2014 at Susan Fournier's

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Branding Now, 10 Dos, 10 Don'ts

  1. 1. Branding Now 10 dos 10 don’ts Grant McCracken BBR 2014 Boston University, May 21, 2014
  2. 2. note to slide share viewers This deck was written for Susan Fournier’s conference on branding at Boston University late May 2014 It’s a little “shouty,” expressing my frustration with the way branding how happens in practice. I sum up the argument in the next four slides.
  3. 3. One brand, many meanings we continue to act as if every brand is one thing. A very clear, simple, exact thing Doesn’t it have to be many things? One brand, many meanings. Multiple, inconsistent, and sometimes messy meanings.
  4. 4. One brand, meanings both broad and obscure we’re caught between two impulses: work designed to speak to the largest possible audience AND branding that makes tiny, precious, local meanings. Don’t we have to do both? One brand with meanings both big and small, both broad and obscure.
  5. 5. The brander is the prime mover We have worked to make the consumer a collaborator in and cocreator of the brand. I wonder if we haven’t gone too far. The brander is the prime mover, creating the world within which consumers, fans and content recreators work with brand meanings. This is not a symmetrical relationship. The brand begins and ends with the brander.
  6. 6. Old media matters sometimes more than new media We have concentrated too much on new media (mea culpa here too). We need both old media and new media to build the brand. Old media has a special role to play, creating the foundational meanings of the brand. (There are certain meanings we can’t make with new media.)
  7. 7. Ok, here’s the deck as I gave it yesterday
  8. 8. a transitional moment • that guy at the party • brand as bore • brand as bully
  9. 9. Oops, TV got better bastard child catches up good and bad for branding s/netflix/
  10. 10. 1. The banded brand a brand with many layers or bands Brand
  11. 11. outer-most band, perfect simplicity
  12. 12. 2nd story wrapped in & concealed by the 1st
  13. 13. next band, a finer signal still
  14. 14. for the brand’s deepest fans
  15. 15. if we build it, they will find it
  16. 16. 24 million viewers - 4 shows
  17. 17. 2. the “broad band” brand the broadest meanings dearest to the biggest segments
  18. 18. 3. secret messages the brand as a place the consumer can wander, inhabit. Medieval Paris. (The upper image is a secret image send by Fringe show- runners to their fans.)
  19. 19. 4. provocative brands annoying, actually to win some, we gotta lose some cadillac-rescuing-the-brand-from-bland-my- latest-at-hbr.html
  20. 20. 5. brands that go into the world we are too mediated brands should show up in the world not to bang the drum but to play what-we-can-l/
  21. 21. 6. brands that go into the show the perfect opposite of product placement this Subaru ad incomprehensible unless you know the show ds-being-human.html
  22. 22. 7. brands that know where they are brands used to act like they existed unto themselves. “context, who cares about context?” ecificit.html
  23. 23. 8. the brand with a sense of self mockery RadioShack: The 80s called and they want their store back
  24. 24. 9. brands as creative platform the brand as a starter-kit brand as a platform brand as a place to play starts-creative-platforms-for-culture- makers.html
  25. 25. 10. test for oxygen Clive Sirkin, Kimberly-Clark, we give our marketers “freedom and license” like Ian Tait and the W+K lab after the Superbowl
  26. 26. Don’ts
  27. 27. bound to be more controversial
  28. 28. sorry
  29. 29. 1. branding is not a conversation The brander is the meaning maker, the arena within which the brand lives. Conversations are symmetrical. Brands are asymmetrical.
  30. 30. 2. branding is not a collaboration the brander is the prime mover, alpha & omega. consumers participate, but they participate within the brand, once the brander has put that brand in place
  31. 31. 3. branding is not crowd sourcing the Pharrell Williams “Happy” video feels spontaneous and street sourced but it is in fact carefully casted & crafted.
  32. 32. 4. branding should not be purpose driven Our job is to be responsive to consumers, and to change with them in real time. It’s not about us. It’s about them.
  33. 33. 5. branding is not about stories It’s about meanings “Stories” constrain us. Meanings must be modular. Stories have narrative arcs, characters and climaxes. Branders need to be modular to build a banded brand
  34. 34. 6. don’t inflict ourselves on culture Minnie Driver on The Riches our most disgraceful moment ever ting-out-o.html just say “no” to product placement
  35. 35. 7. don’t act like it’s all about you we are not welcome unless we have something to contribute to culture practice cultural arbitrage hack culture edition.html
  36. 36. 8. branding is not “all about new media” old media is the major meaning maker Vince Gilligan, BB. no new media project can make meanings like these new media essential for mediation but the prime mover remains for most purposes old media how-will-they-react-to-the-revolution-in-tv.html
  37. 37. 9. don’t do publicity stunts Earn your media by contributing to culture. No cheating, no stunts. inhale culture, exhaling culture and otherwise make the brand charming & useful don’t be this guy
  38. 38. 10. don’t make the brand live in the moment We need earliest warning possible Reacting is not a strategy. in-real-time-data-visualization-and- the-cco.html
  39. 39. thank you this presentation will be up at by end of tomorrow Image by Alaine Delorme
  40. 40. Thanks again to Susan Fournier for including me in the conference