follow me on Twitter


    From the Gaping Void

    Food for thought

    « Planning Turns 40 | Main | PSFK San Francisco today »

    July 15, 2008



    Wow. Great thoughts. This is something I'm struggling through in a transitioning traditional agency that serves a number of traditional, very corporate clients. Tacking social media tactics onto a proposal isn't going to generate a lot of results if the tactics are more interactive than the brand is ready to be.

    There needs to be a fundamental shift in the way brands view people and the value they place upon interaction with people. Otherwise those of us who consider ourselves "social media experimenters" are going to be looking for new careers.

    Thanks for the thoughts.

    Ryan Moede

    These are great thoughts, and I would agree that we need to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Just as form follows function, we need to better understand the strategy and brand before diving into the execution and tactics.


    I know nothing about this at all and it intrigues me. Can you give me an example or a thought about how a brand might be a social brand? Again, this is not my discipline so I may be asking some silly questions... but don't most brands aim to give the air of social care? Don't they all 'reach out' to the viewer to seduce them into social normativization (I like neologisms)? A sense of success and community? A sense of being wealthy or beautiful or famous or "part of the team."? I've long ago written this off as facade and maybe you're wanting to break through it. If that's correct, how can the corporate (I'm assume this when I think "brand") ever talk to the individual?

    Josh Chambers

    Thanks for a good post! I agree with everything you've said.

    This is somewhat of a 'devil's advocate' question: Can you train someone to be a good listener? And if you can, are they truly a good listener? Or are they the same old "Please stop talking so I can start" person, with better manners? Thoughts?

    David Burn

    Paragraph three is great stuff, but I have yet to encounter a brand manager who has even the slightest interest in real listening. They're not trained for it, and either are we.



    Two pieces of timeless wisdom I've found useful.

    The first is from the god-like Jeremy Bullmore:

    "The agency of the future will have a fine, clear and cultured understanding of some primitive and timeless facts of life. They will understand the nature of choice, the nature of persuasion, and how people construct brands in their own heads. Nothing that's happened in the past 50 years has affected these timeless and generic truths. All the rest is tactics. Only an agency that starts with such ancient understandings will be able to give a client dependable answers to these ancient questions: Where could I be? How can I get there? And how much will it cost?"

    The second is from Guy Murphy:

    "We will find our way through the complex jungle of change if we are led by brand thinking. Brands give us a point on the horizon to aim for. When you know what kind of brand you are building - its personality, its effect on the senses, the reason and the emotions - the complex array of choices become clearer to decide between.If we need to know how to express our brands in a more digital, media-complex world, then the answer won't be found digging around in the world of media and digital itself. The answer will come from asking the question: How would my brand behave?"

    Hoping to solve a strategic problem by thinking from media out - rather than from brand in - is a hopeless and doomed endeavour.

    In our fascination and worry about the new digital frontier, 3.0 and all its shiny toys, etc. I hope we don't all stop trying to improve our understanding of what makes human beings tick, and how brand relationships are created.

    Mike Lynn

    Strategy is everything so it shouldn't be any surprise that it makes as much sense in the new media world as the old, traditional one. A lot of new media has been over-hyped tactically but undersold strategically. I have seen a lot of disappointment when the new media integration didn't produce the magical results everyone expected (for no good reason). I think that's why a lot of brand managers lose interest. They are responsible for short term results...not new media experimentation. Keep the marketing objectives and strategy in the forefront, look to new media forms as opportunities to solve business problems (in conjunction with "old" traditional media forms) and brand managers will listen and success will be a given. It works for me.

    Christopher Owens

    Very cool stuff - have been thinking about this one for awhile myself. Been asking the question - how can we make brands more conversational? If you get a chance - I'll be doing a session on this at the AP Conf in Miami on Monday. Stop by if you can - topic: Planning for Conversations. Cheers.


    Yes, agree, which is a point I think most communication strategy/media agency's completely miss and instead get sidetracked developing new models like "transmedia planning". More on this here,



    "Don't make me a target."

    The comments to this entry are closed.

    Age of Conversation

    Traffic by

    Blog powered by Typepad

    All the views

    • expressed on this blog are those of their author alone.

    Battle of The Ad Blogs 2006