We have lived for many years with the illusion of control. We believed that we could:
- Control the experience of our brand
- Manage the way our brand was represented
- Dictate the messaging people used when discussing our brand
To administer this, and to reinforce our sense of ownership of our brand, we created processes, guidelines and tools of management that enforced consistency, clarity and style. We measured our control in pixels and pantone colours. And we sat at our desks in the contented glow of our three ring binders, style guides and brand books.
And because we controlled the medium in which our brands were discussed (or at least paid large sums to those broadcasting our messages), we came to see this belief in control as truth. This, in time, made us happy.
And then along came the web. It was billed as a levelled playing field but it was really a simulation of what had gone before – the means of publishing production remained centralized, controlled and administered. But a new power was created. The ascendency of the geeks was underway and the promise of the world wide web remained tantalisingly close – veiled behind layers of code and techno-speak.
It was not until the advent of the social web that publishing, distribution and creation was democratized (of course, consumption is another question). Now, anyone with an internet connection (yes, even mobile), can engage in the publishing process.
This social media free-for-all remains a challenge for many brands. In fact, despite Australian audiences ranking amongst the most avid consumers of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, many companies still tread warily around the edges of social without a clear strategy to engage, participate or simply listen.
But for every story of risk and corporate fear, we also see celebrations. For whether we like it or not, our customer use the products and services we create – generating unique experiences and amazing results.
Look what happens when high school student Melody Green produces a video documentary of her school science experiment. Not only does she tell the powerful and exciting story of a young girl learning about high altitude science (should be more of it) … it generates story after story:
- The video is featured as video of the day on the GoPro video camera website
- News websites run the story – from CBS News to Examiner to the Daily Mail
Getting behind this kind of momentum is a brilliant move by GoPro and the High Altitude Science folks. It’s a great example of what can happen when you do let your customers tell the story of your brand. But it’s amazing what happens when you not only let that story be told, but you actively promote that as PART of your brand.
Just think … you could do that too. Today rather than obsessing over the negative, shine a little light on the great things your customers say. It might just amaze you.