Erin Esurance
Originally uploaded by scottmw1971

Conversations swirl around the touchpoints of a brand. We mention our favourite brands over lunch, we wear them, carry them and sometimes even drive them. And what makes their study so fascinating and the demands of their stewardship so challenging is that they can and do embed themselves very deep in the human psyche.

In the claiming of a brand, we seek to own, consume and digest some spirit that projects beyond ourselves. And the open identification of our selves with a brand allows others of the "tribe" to spot us in a crowd. The brand marks us out to our kin and kind — fugitives, family and refugees all at once.

And yet even as we begin to take ownership of brands, even as we incorporate branded trademarks and language into our everyday speech, there are many companies who fail to notice our actions. They avoid our incantations, turn away from our devotions and swivel their eyes inwards. Meanwhile our efforts of brand cocophany provide the meaningless backdrop for discussions on typeface, look and feel or customer experience. Surely a moment’s attention is not too much to beg?

Ah yes, but what happens when a brand that you have lovingly crafted takes on a life of its own? What happens when your own efforts at outreach fall flat, while the community’s efforts vastly outstrip your own — in popularity, in style and in AUTHENTICITY? What happens when your brand voice sounds better coming through the mouths of your customers?

I only ask because of this discussion started by Chris Kieff around Erin Esurance. Chris nicely documents a series of brand eruptions that have broken out across the social media landscape and charts their effectiveness. It is clear that the work of fans resonates more strongly than efforts of the company and its agency.

So what is one to do? Chris has some good answers. What are yours?