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The Changing Nature of Brands

Assigning order to a chaotic process with enterprise social software. People in businesses should be using it to relate ideas, stories and information to each other as well as customers, suppliers, partners, et al. over the net. Enterprise social software will help them spot new business opportunities before the competition does, create a meeting place, be open to radical opportunities, break down silos, support experimentation, and enable managers to represent customers vis-à-vis their own organizations.

Anyway, the topics, brands, strategy, and markets of these next two posts, yawn, have me thinking that you might be better off reading the cluetrain and thehughtrain first just to open your mind up, balanced diet of course, to what else has been said. What both Chris and John are writing about is important to every business but I think most managers just don't get it. I hope with their (Chris and John) stature in the biz world these ideas really start to bubble up to the surface and managers take notice because the rate of change is going to put many of them in cardiac arrest with others being counted as doa.

Chris Anderson, the longtail has a post about,
Brands: Think people, not products
. Chris, "... the number of available products is exploding thanks to the infinite shelf space effect. That chaotic world is getting more chaotic by the day as our choices expand with Amazon's inventory and Google's reach.

This would lead to a classic "tyranny of choice" problem were it not for the fact that at the same time there's been a parallel explosion of information about those abundant products. That information, ranging from product reviews to "rank by bestselling", also helps us choose wisely. In a sense, information is increasingly serving the same role as a brand, bringing order and structure to a chaotic marketplace. More importantly, information can scale with massive variety in the way that brands can't. So what does this mean for brands?"

Since I am somewhat of a geek, what I look at first is the technology a company employs to support their brands. With both Amazon and Google, you can pretty much say the door is wide open, as in non-proprietary api's and web services. Just take a look at what geeks are doing to have fun : Google Maps Overlays Satellite Photographs, Google Maps with Craigslist, and just use to discover Amazon meeting the greasemonkey.

Amazon - Bang! They are making web 2.0 exciting with:

"About Sharing Your Own Customer Images" Your pictures of products in action, with captions - photos of product features ('see the simple controls on this music player'), products in use ('here's how to install the ink cartridge'), product performance ('this camera's macro mode is incredibly sharp') - anything you can imagine to help other shoppers learn about the product!

Why share images?

Sometimes product descriptions and manufacturer supplied images are not enough. Here's your chance to help millions of fellow customers learn more about how a product looks, behaves and performs. Think of customer uploaded image as reviews in pictures."

Statistically Improbable Phrases, or "SIPs", are the most distinctive phrases in the text of books in the Search Inside!

Capitalized Phrases or "CAPs", are people, places, events, or important topics mentioned frequently in a book."

Top it off with cool AJAX and Amazon is what other businesses should be striving for - real customer interaction that is fun and has real value. How do you get there? John Hagel has a couple of ideas.

Restoring the Power of Brands
John Hagel - Edge Perspectives

Bottom line from John, "... opportunity starts with building enduring, rich and multi-dimensional relationships with customers. Use the understanding that emerges from these relationships to become even more helpful and even more trusted as an advisor, helping people to navigate through the Long Tail. People can do this themselves, but companies can amplify that capability. In the process they can become platforms for significant wealth creation and build a very different kind of brand from the ones that dominate our business landscape today.

Why couldn’t this be done before and why are there still only very limited examples of these new brands? Two reasons: technology, skills and mindset. On the technology front, the convergence of the Internet, Web services, customer profiling technology and deep analytic tools creates an opportunity to scale customer-centric brands in ways that were never economically feasible before. Using these technologies effectively requires a new set of skills and these take time to develop and deploy.

And then mindset. Even among some of the best aggregators in the Long Tail, the mindset focuses on search through larger and larger numbers of objects. They sometimes forget that there are people on the other end. They can become even more helpful by getting to know those people and using that understanding to become even more trusted advisors."

As for Google, read my post on Connect people, places, and things to ideas and information as more people discover services such as technorati, bloglines and pubsub, the idea of "objects" changes to people and

Technorati = the high end (elements of time and people) Google = the mass market.

"Those people" are you and me right now, plus 50 million others, and another few billion soon to follow. Sadly most businesses are not " amplify[ing] that capability" and letting us in to play. Using a novel technique we have been able to identify an implicit community of interest and tap into its emergent group mind on and others with accuracy that makes Ideascaping the long tail possible today.