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    From the Gaping Void

    Food for thought

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    July 06, 2010


    victoria kaulback

    Yep. Though, is a bridge the best we can do these days ? It seems so unemotional and tacked-on. Maybe it really is. Maybe marketing is moribund and you're just being honest about it. I think that may be the case. What a relief. Maybe something more exciting will grow from its ashes. Social enterprise, for example.

    Caley Cantrell

    This is worth thinking about. Too many times we get caught up in "sticky" or "pithy" and can end up falling in love with the wrong stuff. I think it's okay that the idea of creating a bridge is unemotional. That doesn't mean the bridge itself is. In fact, it probably means the exact opposite.

    David Warren

    Sounds good to me! : )

    I think that commercial success today is a result of the value exchange between two different cultures. On one hand we have the culture of the organisation (manifest as the brand / product or service). On the other we have the culture of the consumer (usually described as an unmet need or interest – either emotive, symbolic or functional).

    Ultimately good communication ideas live within the intersection of both cultures and thrive off the tension that exists there.

    Martin Weigel

    I like the simplicity.

    'Stickiness' always represented the triumph of rhetoric over anything actually useful.

    And yet.

    The notion of a bridge suggests, even encourages, the notion that there is a gulf to be spanned.

    Between the world of the consumer. Full of interesting, absorbing, valuable stuff.

    And our world. A world of stuff they're not particularly interested in, and don't really need, truth be told.

    I'll be the first to acknowledge that most of the time people are people, not consumers. And that for most of the time, they're not that interested in brands.

    That said, rather than suggest that there is a gulf to be bridged between two worlds, I'd suggest that a simple rule of thumb to create by is - BE what people are interested in.

    Even if that's only for a fleeting nanosecond. Even if that's only at point of purchase. Even when that's on the few occasions they're thinking about your category in some way.

    I think the examples you cite live by that.

    I'm not sure... This might be planner-y navel-gazing...

    Though bridge is so much better than 'stickiness' - a notion that nobody's ever managed to define usefully or adequately.

    Paul McEnany

    I felt like I was using nike+ a bit too much, so I just started using head2head instead. :)

    Teo Florea

    The spaces between things are neat. And do watch "The Bridge" if you haven't yet to better appreciate the death machine just outside our window here in SF!!!

    I wonder if maybe, sometimes, and when we're firing on all cylinders, we're not just building bridges from brands to consumers but using brands to create bridges between consumers.


    That's one way to think of it...

    Consumer-->Brand/Communication->Consumer another.

    Nike+ (yeah, I know!) is really all about that - a communication space that's actually a way for folks to connect. Brand as medium, tool, enabler, or bridge between people.

    A powerful brand has the power to do that. And the more meaning we build into that brand the more it connects people. This is the essence of brand as the most primordial of communications.

    What does walking down the street wearing a Harley T-Shirt say about me? And who is it speaking to? How can that brand, totally stripped of its product, still create a powerful connection between strangers by signaling so much about who they are and what they value?

    When we create meaning for people we give them a short hand. A BMW driver is signaling something about himself. A Hyundai driver is signaling something else. Buying someone a digital Jack Daniel's on FaceBook clearly conveys something.

    The brand or branded communication space we create is the medium, the bridge, that helps people attract other like minded folks to themselves. In that sense brand = language = meaning = a bridge for bringing our tribe together.

    We don't have relationships with brands. We use brands to have relationships with others.

    Brands don't have personalities. They are badges that harmonize with and reflect our personalities.

    And that's the challenge for a corporation - understanding that people are willing to pay a premium for a branded product if that brand gives them a bridge to connect them to the things and people they identify with most.

    Most failed campaigns, promotions, and digital efforts fail when this fact isn't clear. "We're going to let consumers tell the world how THEY eat Kraft singles!" "We're going to enable consumers to play a game featuring our brand mascot!"

    In that sense, and to challenge the ghost of Ty Montague David seems to be channeling above, I'm not sure we need to BE the things that people are interested in. We just need to be the bridge to those things. And, for us as social creatures, those things tend to be other people. (The recent iPhone 4 ads with the soldier using Face Time brutally demonstrates this.)

    Because, ironically the LESS people are interested in US, notice us, are interrupted by us. The more useful, ubiquitous, and seamless we are, the more ofter people will move through our branded spaces and turn to our brands to flow through life and connect with the people who matter to them most.

    Like moving across bridges.

    Pablo Edwards

    I'd agree. We spend so much time trying to differentiate and distinguish between two things, when all we need to do is start building bridges.

    denzil meyers

    There's a perspective that defines Innovation as "finding a connection between 2 things that were not previously connected".

    We also see that there's lots of heat and action where 2 categories are combining into one, e.g. phone + computer.

    Both support your bridges notion.

    Jenny Nicholson

    My personal Nike+ is the pizza tracker. Everyone I know literally groans when I mention it. But I won't stop. We all complain about how we never make anything of value. We're at a point in history when we actually can. Even if it is a dumb site that lets me watch my pizza as it's made so I don't have to look out my window every time I hear a car.

    Kathy Garolsky

    Good Day.Kathy here.I really enjoyed reading your article.Great thoughts.Keep it up.Thanks

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