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Trends, commentary, and insightful rants from the bleeding edge of advertising, content & branding.

You Are Not a Brand

smarmy“I am not an elephant! I am not an animal! I am a human being! I am a man!”

This is a pet peeve.  In fact, peeve may be too soft a description for my feelings on this issue. What “issue” you ask?   Oh well, that would be this whole notion which has taken root over the past seven or ten years that perfectly normal people should act as if they are boxes of detergent.  This whole idea of, “what’s your brand?” and “what’s your positioning?” as if the divine combination of soul and intellect is now the moral equivalent of Cheerios.  I had some hope that the New Depression would kill this off but no such luck.  Hey, if you’re Lebron James it’s fine. I get it. $150 million. You’re a corporation. You’re a mensch. You have people.  You’re Oprah? Understood.  Multi-platform proposition.  You help elect presidents. Enough said.  Even Donny Deutsch.  I guess…so.  Well, you had a television show. Fair enough.

But.

2nd Vice President of Sales at Avirtex? Not so fast.  Not with that haircut.

I could continue ranting like this for the rest of the post but there is a (slightly) larger point to be made.  As the web becomes more social and as brands cede more control to people; and, really, as brands start to act more like people what with the twittering and the facebookery and so forth. In that kind of landscape it doesn’t make any sense for the real people to continue acting like brands.  Because plainly that’s not what we want from our brands these days. What we want is a sense of social responsibility. What we want is a sense of foible. What we want, dear Brutus, is a sense of HUMANITY from our brands. And if that’s what we want from Clorox Green then we certainly prefer humanity in the actual humans.

You take that all the way to its philosophical endpoint. All the way to its QED. And what it means is that we are approaching an online social geography where brands are secondary to the people or “friends’ who use and recommend them to us and, beyond that, the value of a “brand” is only as good as its ability to live up to its WOM.  Or it’s only as good as the people who have the name on their business cards.  I’m looking at you, Washington Mutual.  This has always been true. We’re not shaking the cosmos here; but the facts got obscured back when we still had banks and U.S. made cars.  People used to actually talk to you (vodka soda in hand) about their “brand.” And not in a funny “Sex and the City” way either, but in a deadly serious I think I’m Martha Stewart way. And the terrifying bit? This self-delusion among white-collar professionals continues to this day.

I’m looking at you, Linkedin.

Self-branding is a silent killer.  Seems right in the moment. “Oh, I have to be a ‘go getter’ brand to get that job.”  Really?  What a mercenary and cynical approach to life that seems to be.  I’m speaking as someone who embraces the Great Game of advertising and marketing in all its tiny glory.  Honestly, I like my brands just as they are and I prefer people to simply be people.  For those of you not offended by this rant and who would like help with you actual, inanimate “brands” please contact one of the super geniuses (info@supergeniusllc.om)

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Filed under: Self Help, , , ,

Come outside, the graphics are great.

032708_puma.jpgSome would argue (my dad for one) that all the research effort we put into marketing or communications could probably be better spent curing cancer or something foolish like that! But then we wouldn’t have nifty papers like this one from Wharton marketing professor Jonah Berger (full disclosure: one of the supergeniuses went to Penn). His research suggests that subtle environmental cues can influence consumer choices. They begin their report by offering the example of Mars Bars, which saw an increase in sales after NASA landed the Pathfinder spacecraft on Mars on July 4, 1997. “Although the Mars Bar takes its name from the company founder and not from Earth’s neighboring planet, consumers apparently responded to news about the planet Mars by purchasing more Mars Bars,” the authors write. Crazy, right? Try putting a Mars landing expedition in next year’s line item budget.

Filed under: consumer choice, , , , ,

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Super Genius LLC is a digital media and creative incubator that excels at bringing fresh, new thinking to existing strategy as well as blank-page strategic development. Our mission is to open up unique and exciting ways of connecting brands and consumers.

"The future is here, it's just not evenly distributed yet." William Gibson

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