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December 30, 2003

At the stadium today, I witnessed a world record 

2014: At the stadium today, I witnessed a world record.

I had a feeling that something special was coming up when stand Y – where youth congregates - came up with the loudest open roar I’d ever heard. Above the field, where the news screens are, details of the project ideas that the youths had spaced flashed up. Then an odd thing happened, in stand S where the seniors had been conversing in small circles, everyone flowed back into a big circle. Two minutes later we enjoyed the loudest roar I’d ever heard from seniors. The newsflash went up; they had worked out how to make the youth's project even better. Then all circles started gravitating – not to be left out in stand T the top people were next to roar; they had always wanted to govern in ways that would facilitate such a project so the news-screens informed us.

Due to a lapse of future memory I have but one new year’s quiz for you. What was the youth’s project idea that set the world's record on track?

If you've an answer RSVP ,
Chris Macrae, London & DC,
And do feel free to link this message wherever open minds may be) Happy 2004

( Personal vote for site of the year 2003 : & )
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December 28, 2003

Facial Action Coding System and the new marketing science 

Here is a great example of the increasingly scientific methods marketers and brand managers are using to understand "consumer behaviour" as reported in a recent edition of Business 2.0 (subscription req'd), attempts that I call marketing's little innovation boulders, as a recent post on my blog Creating Positive Context elaborates. I'll let them describe:
Ever since Columbia University sociologist Robert Merton performed what is considered the forerunner of the modern focus group -- a 1941 interview of radio listeners regarding their views on the U.S. government's morale-boosting shows -- market researchers have suspected that subjects deny, exaggerate, and otherwise misreport their own emotions. Merton himself, in his 1956 book The Focused Interview, warned that societal norms might cause interviewees to "censor their self-reports, denying (sometimes even to themselves) the stirrings of sentiment." He imagined that marketers might one day invent an "introspectometer," but noted that "since no such device exists, the nearest equivalent available is to have each subject act as his own introspectometer."

Sensory Logic is an East Cost scientific market research business that "specializes in the analysis of the psycho-physiological responses of consumers to an organization's products and services." Founded by Dan Hill, it believes it has finally developed something close to the "introspectometer". Based on the Facial Action Coding System developed in the 1970's by US Sociologist Paul Ekman (which classified over 3000 facial muscle movements - the "eyelid tightener" expresses anger, for instance, and the "nasolabial fold deepener" manifests sadness), the system has "proven to be highly accurate". Sensory Logic of course, uses facial expressions to identify and interpret consumer reactions to advertising. (My own facial expression is currently registering "disbelief" and "astonishment" at this claim):
To measure initial gut reactions to a commercial or ad, Sensory Logic first attaches electrodes to the side of a subject's mouth (monitoring the zygomatic muscle, for smiles), above the eyebrow (corrugator muscle, for frowns), and on two fingers (for sweat). Hill says the facial muscle movements reflect appeal, while perspiration translates into what he calls "impact" -- emotional power. Last summer Sensory Logic wired up 40 subjects recruited from a Pittsburgh mall and showed them a Nationwide Insurance TV commercial called "Smashworld," which depicted a parallel universe with no insurance -- and streets full of dented cars. When onscreen Nationwide agents saved the day (by processing claims), appeal and impact scores soared (wow! - CL). But when two men had an accident in the final scene -- added for comic relief by Nationwide's ad agency -- appeal tanked. "With this methodology, you really see where audience attitude goes south," says Nationwide market researcher Michelle Tufford. She went instead with a spot that had a happier ending.

After Sensory Logic founder Dan Hill takes the initial readings, he ditches the electrodes and then videotapes the interview with each subject. Later his FACS-trained team reviews the video, second by second, cataloging emotions. Replaying the tape of a young woman who says she's "bored" by one version of Nationwide's logo, Hill points out that her expressions say much more. "Her eyebrows come together in a triangle," he says. "And see that upside-down smile? She's approaching what we call a 'super-sneer.'"

"Super-sneer" indeed. One wonders about the next development in facial expression research. Maybe people sitting at home could volunteer to be wired up for an evening's viewing in front of the TV ads or we even could wear the face connectors whilst out shopping in the mall, helping brands understand people's reactions to the mix of goods on the shelves. Seriously though, there must surely be a limit to depth and scope of understanding this technique brings. It would appear to be a classic "little innovation boulder".

Why doesn't someone think about recording people's overall reaction to growing commercial encroachment of media and ads into our "mental environment". Maybe we could invent a "Super Brand BS Detector", one that records our multiple frustrations, thoughts and experiences with businesses as we go about our daily lives ... Hmm. maybe not ...

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Amsterdam invitation (bis) 

May I take the liberty to add to John's blog entry last week about the Beyond Branding do in Amsterdam?
   I’ve created an HTML version of the same for those who might prefer to not download an Acrobat PDF at the Medinge Group site at this link. Sorry I can't be there in person!
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2004, Year of Transparency - Brand Quiz q 1 concerning value multiplier v5 on THE MAP 

If in all transparency we adopt the system definition of global brand as one that over time benefits every nation (which every nation values as increasing the lot of their people)- I would like to hear whether you think any global brands exist?

My own guess is that there are some people brands that are transparent globally - eg Mandela? But I would love to hear from any corporation that would like to be openly registered here -for everyone to appraise - as a transparent global brand. ...err if some brand valuer has told your global corporate brand its worth billons of goodwill but you can't demonstrate your benefit to any nation, could it be the valuer doesnt have a BA in maths?

More on open source adventures you can have with The Map at 1 (an EU web ) , 2 (a transparency benchmarking web) 3 (in celebrating 2004, Year of Transparency, we welcome free syndication to your web if it is concerned with any of the following tramsparencies:
whether value is being systemically delivered over time to any of the following : nations, employees, customers, business networks, owners
whether the system multiplier the 3 primary governance dynamics of self-organising, hierarchical and open for networking worldwide

PS according to Amazon, Beyond-Branders value ourselves on 7 criteria - do email all of us authors if you see any failure on our parts, its quite a hard cocktail to lead and we would willingly share the burden with other professions which value going beyond on these 7 dimensions
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December 26, 2003

Can we go one better than sucks in 2004, Year of Transparency 

You may already know that most big brands have so destroyed the trust of some of their most dependent customers and societies , that it is common to find each has the equivalent of a brandsucks web- the deeply genuine customer complaints the brand never gets round to even offering an explanation for

Could we go one better in influencing global brand leaders?

Suppose we settled on a one letter prefix like b and registered the world's biggest 25 brands as b-sites. And wrote up as conversation starters at each site the people's hopes for that brand as one of the world's 25 biggest - and most openly trustworthy - communications leaders.

If I'm missing something and you don't think this is the essence of what the world's most powerful brands should be openly co-sponsoring in a transparently networked and humanitarian 21st century, please do say.
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December 25, 2003

Taking Constructs of Branding Beyond - part 1 ESSENCE 

Between the experts at this web, over the last 15 years, we've coined many of the core constructs of living and leading the brand. I thought we could do a series on how we would rewrite each construct with the benefit of beyond's hindsight.

Example : Brand Essence (how I wrote it 1995)

How I'd take Brand Essence Beyond in view of NoLogo criticisms from Naomi Klein - my one conversation with whom was one of my greatest learning experiences

Making Brand Essence more Human

If you are an industry leader, work out the greatest responsibility of your industry to the world or those regions that are most impacted by your industry. What is it that the world is crying out for only your industry could change for the better? Now work out a collaboration knowledge policy which you can openly lead – including competitors if necessary – so that the world will be a better place because of your industry. Pre-empt that in your brand architecture. The reason most companies miss this biggest play of human brand leadership is that it is an analysis that their ad agency has never walked them through, usually because it involves less advertising and more reality making. When it comes to humanitarian creativity, ad agencies may not be the best place to rehearse your leadership essence with.

Incidentally, brand experts should have a common checklist of all the world's greatest responsibility challenges to check industry leadership possibilities against. Help me make a better one or tell us where a better one already is.

Example: Prevent worst sort of money laundering - circulating around international terrorists groups

Prevention will require a leading American Global bank to take the initiative

Required initiative : sponsor an open space event on this problem in New York inviting 500 people including press, CEOs of all other major banks, concerend citizen groups and government. Cost in money is marginal - renting space for 500 people which be the bank's own lobby floor for all I know.

PR results for having taken the lead huge. Chance of resolution depends on whether the open conversation once started among New Yorkers would ever stop - since I believe there to be many smart and humanitarian people in New York, I see no reason to think it would until this issue was turned round, eventually never to afflict humanity again.

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December 23, 2003

Invitation to Amsterdam 

An opportunity to meet the authors of Beyond Branding takes place in Amsterdam on January 15th. As the attached invitation puts it: "If you feel like having a fascinating discussion about brands and branding, debating issues such as autheticity, integrity, transparency, leadership, anthropology and socio-economic development, then you must not pass-up this opportunity."

Amsterdam 15 Jan.pdf
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Worst branding blunder of 2003 

Mine still goes to Starship Children's Hospital in Auckland, New Zealand, when health board chairman Wayne Brown said that branding had no place in a hospital and that it was not special.
   He proposed changing the much favoured, Princess Diana-opened hospital's name, renaming it to a more Soviet-sounding 'Auckland City Hospital—Children's Division'.
   If you want to know the opposite of what Beyond Branding is all about, take note of Mr Brown's words and inhuman approach to branding.
   Back in April, I felt compelled to issue a press release at
   It mightn't have been the most serious (as in life-threatening) blunder, but Mr Brown's network-broadcast comments were a series of some of the dumbest comments ever recorded on branding.
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December 22, 2003

Fancy a blowie? 

Thanks to this entry in Tony Goodson's blog for pointing out the site of Blowfly Beer, with this call to action:
Sick of the mass-produced tasteless beer that’s been on tap at every bar you’ve sashayed into since you were a nipper?

Had a gutful of greedy, uni dropouts masquerading as CEO’s who fritter away your money in companies you have no control over?

Then, my friend you’re ready to join us creating history in the Blowfly effect
Tony comments:
Now if this isn't a combination of Conversational Marketing (a la Cluetrain and Gonzo Marketing), Viral Marketing, and Fun, then I don't know what is! Hey, maybe things are starting to change.
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I'll second that nomination 

Yes, I completely share Chris M's astonishment at the Royal Mail. I thought Allan Leighton was doing a god job generally but this donation was madness.

Also, well done Chris for coining a new word for our dictionary "jesture" : a gesture that is so risible, you'd be forgiven for thinking it is done in jest.
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December 21, 2003

Worst PR of 2003 

Since this industry seems to increasingly operate on the principle of how much can we talk down to you, I guess this could be quite a contest

Here's mine for starters

Thank you Royal Mail from all Londoners. I understand that go slows or whatever are a fact of some organsiation's lives but when you lose mail for 6 weeks, the result can be that one gets final demands from utilities before receiving the original bills. In my case, if I bother at all , I tell the utility that if it cuts me off for a bill I havent received it will end up in court; in case of some elderly I know it makes them ill

In this context, one should probably be quite careful when advising the CEO of the post office to send a personal letter apologising to everyone in London. Of course we see the wizzard trick, you are the only company in the country that can do this at marginal cost. But then the apology adds, as a jesture we will donate a million to a charity. Who's we I ask myself knowing in the end that the customer usually forks out for such largesse.

Then we look at whom the CEO chose to donate the million to. The committee for bringing the olympics to London. Funny that the day before the letter from the Royal Mail, I was reading a survey of how 12 year olds had the wit to say that they only wanted the olympics in London if it would come with a guarantee of being self-financing. So dear CEO of Royal Mail you have chosen to donate money on behalf of customers to something that the only clear majority would vote for is short-term politicians. Thanks, and may your 2004 be somewhat more transparent.
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December 20, 2003

mislaid, 4.9 billion $ 

Parmalat, Italy - can anyone tell me how a dairy company fakes a 4.9 billion dollar account (presumably) without any of its accountants noticing?

-more reasons for thinking that transparency is a demand that we ordinary people need to know about because as before the one sdafe bet is 'the average pensioner to be' will be the main loser...

[New York Times]
December 20, 2003
Irregularities Push Parmalat Closer to Insolvency

PARMA, Italy, Dec. 19 - Parmalat, the Italian dairy and food giant, slid to the brink of insolvency on Friday after the company disclosed that a bank account that supposedly held nearly $5 billion of its money did not exist.

Parmalat said that Bank of America had told one of its auditors, Grant Thornton, on Wednesday that a document showing that a Parmalat finance unit in Cayman Islands had an account of 3.95 billion euros ($4.9 billion) was a fake. A Bank of America spokeswoman in London declined to comment.

The crisis at Parmalat, which has been escalating in recent weeks, now dwarfs accounting problems that have roiled European companies like Royal Ahold of the Netherlands, Vivendi Universal of France and Elan of Ireland
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December 17, 2003

2004 - The Year of Transparency-  

Will Dean win? Dunno. One thing looks worth betting on; the most exciting election agenda in my lifetime: the people of US versus the power of vested interest.
The way Dean's campaign is being funded, the people won't let him forget his pledge to restore Truman's way: “The only expansion we are interested in is the expansion of human freedom and the wider enjoyment of the good things of the earth in all countries. The only prize we covet is the respect and good will of our fellow members of the family of nations. The only realm we aspire to eminence exists in the minds of men, where authority is exercised with the qualities of sincerity, compassion and right conduct.”
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December 13, 2003

Yatta Yatta! 

Tony Goodson just emailed me as follows:
In case you haven't seen this yet, it's time to close down the Beyond Branding website and just insert a link to this!!
Well, it's one of the funniest things I've ever seen online and says an awful lot about the madness of branding. But perhaps we'll limp along here a bit longer, even if only to act as a conduit for such exhuberance. Yatta! Yatta!
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A little triumph of brand activism 

Church of the Customer celebrates a little victory against broadast marketing:
They're slowly creeping in to the big cities: big-screen TVs zombified into flashing, obnoxious advertising billboards on buildings and public transportation entrances.

Ad agency executives probably think this is brilliant -- a new way to capture attention for 5 seconds! New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority likes the revenue from leasing space near subway station entrances. In the big picture, if you will, they are nothing more than potent additives in the existing advertising smog choking all of us to death. More importantly, it's probably dangerous by significantly distracting drivers from keeping their eyes on the road.

One New York neighborhood fought the arrival of the invader(from Clear Channel) and won.

We need an enforceable non-proliferation treaty from the advertising superpowers.
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December 12, 2003

The most revolutionary research sponsored by government? 

Discuss the 9 Big Trust Issues that Intangibles Valuation Experts urge KM to breakthrough the barriers of Tangibles Over-Governance - Source EU Intangibles Research 2000-2003
Academia Corporate Socio-EconomicValue of Business Modelling Cultural Ethics
Measurement Audits Economics of Nations Deep Democracy & Big Business Support Entrepreneurs

Interesting EU quotes for Beyond Branders include:
Value chains always had a limited life in competitive markets, but they are now eroding at a
much faster rate than in the past. Hence the critical importance of:
- an effective ‘innovation machine’, to keep one step ahead
- networks, as key strategic assets
- understanding the new dynamics of power, which are very different from those in a
traditional, hierarchical and vertically-integrated industrial firm

Universities and business schools will need to shift away from the old-world, deterministic mindset in favour of a mindset geared to understanding the real sources and levers of value in the modern economy in a context of active, imperfect markets that are rife with connectivity and arbitrage opportunities.
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Woman trampled in sales, turns into "shopper", scientists confounded...  

Woman knocked unconscious by trampling shoppers

ORANGE CITY, Florida (AP) -- A mob of shoppers rushing for a sale on DVD players trampled the first woman in line and knocked her unconscious as they scrambled for the shelves at a Wal-Mart Supercenter.

Patricia VanLester had her eye on a $29 DVD player, but when the siren blared at 6 a.m. Friday announcing the start to the post-Thanksgiving sale, the 41-year-old was knocked to the ground by the frenzy of shoppers behind her.

"She got pushed down, and they walked over her like a herd of elephants," said VanLester's sister, Linda Ellzey. "I told them, 'Stop stepping on my sister! She's on the ground!"'

Ellzey said some shoppers tried to help VanLester, and one employee helped Ellzey reach her sister, but most people just continued their rush for deals.

"All they cared about was a stupid DVD player," she said Saturday.

Paramedics called to the store found VanLester unconscious on top of a DVD player, surrounded by shoppers seemingly oblivious to her, said Mark O'Keefe, a spokesman for EVAC Ambulance.

She was flown to Halifax Medical Center in Daytona Beach, where doctors told the family VanLester had a seizure after she was knocked down and would likely remain hospitalized through the weekend, Ellzey said. Hospital officials said Saturday they did not have any information on her condition.

"She's all black and blue," Ellzey said. "Patty doesn't remember anything. She still can't believe it all happened."

Ellzey said Wal-Mart officials called later Friday to ask about her sister, and the store apologized and offered to put a DVD player on hold for her.

Wal-Mart Stores spokeswoman Karen Burk said she had never heard of a such a melee during a sale.

(Heres the good bit - CL)

"We are very disappointed this happened," Burk said. "We want her to come back as a shopper."

... I'm not saying anything ..

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Two razors 

I have always preferred to use two razors at the same time, with two blades on each, one for the left side of my face, one for the right. But it's a real pain trying to find them; you can get packs of five or seven but never two or four. None of the major supermarkets stock them this way, so I have to rely on a specialist mail order company based in the Channel Islands. A real innovator's dilemma that one..
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Do you know, I've only just realised what I've been missing.

For years, I've been shaving with a 3-blade razor, fondly imagining that my baby-soft skin was getting a premium service - and that it was, indeed, the best a man can get.

Only now do I recognise just how much sexier I would be if I had a four blade razor. I am switching brands immediately.

Extraordinary. I want to send a big consumer hug to the folk at Wilkinson Sword for saving me from that 3-blade embarrassment...

Thank goodness marketers somewhere still know the value of real innovation....
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My 6 year old told me how to use email - thought you might like to know 

Help us converse around the 12th grade of email:
1st grade just play with it; to get to second grade find a way of using email that works for you and that you’d never be able to do so well without it
2nd grade to get to 3rd grade – double check that what you think networks well for you also networks well for everyone you are connecting to; go back to 1st grade if not because ultimately no communications practice is of any value if its destroying your stock of trust with other people
3rd grade to get to 4th grade – find a way in which your networking use of email is enabling other people to multiply a non-monetary value – examples might include interpersonal learning, building community, starting to respect diversity of people from every nation
4th grade to get to 5th grade – make sure that everyone in your network of me (the way you linked them through your use of email) understands how to make the same use of email respecting non-privacy and privacy at the right times so that the whole network’s multiplying of value keeps replicating for everyone who newly joins up
5th grade to get to 6th grade find a real networking method – Open Space works for many so that your virtual network is guaranteed making the best use of its real time and place congregations as well as all the rest of the time that its only virtually linked
6th grade (to 11th grade) work in progress
11th to 12th grade - multiply everything you've learnt to do openly and connect the degrees of 3dom principle that the internet was founded around to change the world into what people of every race would call better
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December 11, 2003

Enter Brand Reality on Open Space Piano Key; time to value passion 

Here's the latest addition to the Open Space Piano (if blog format mangles it lower down look to the European Union version here). Its interesting to see how Open Space and advocates of Brand Reality have been singing the same hymns for years now.

Research at the Claremont Business School led by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi - guided by Peter Drucker - has come up with a really interesting model of productive people

More than any other factor (including genetics if I understand correctly) the value multiplying worker is explained by what % of your lifetime have you spent actively learning something that matches those talents you can most make a difference on or purpose that most interests you

We can then infer that the world's most productive organisations are those that match transparency around a deep human purpose that the world wants with maximising its workers' active learning ratios.

In different vocabularies this might be called:
Open Space - Valuing People with Passions enough to give them spaces to self-organise and participate in conflict resolution

Reality Brand Values - ref 0- Origin...1-Japan- a communications and identity system that maximises the company's communal pride in unique organising purpose and individual passion in accomplishment

In systems theory and intangibles valuation governance, self-organising system design and measurements that align this. Similarly for the connections between such policy making capitals as : human, social, intellectual

In a networked knowledge economy and society, shouldn't we be increasing the action learning ratios? Indeed, isnt this going to be the defining advantage between regions that prosper and those that decline relatively to where we were before the internet's connectivity?

please tell us what other disciplines you know of that marry up with this productivity goal? what are their methods or languages for promoting this?
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From CSR to BSR... 

Talking to my good friend Tim Wilson last night about product tracebility and the fiasco of current labelling practice, he made the very valid point that Corporate Social Responsibility if largely an irrelevance for stakeholders.

His point is simple. Corporate action is too fuzzy and too mired in regulation to be truly accountable, auditable. Attempts by human beings to drive a CSR response form corporation can only ever be weakly effective.

Product Social Responsibility (PSR) on the other hand, is actionable for both sides and offers a clear source of differentiation for companies which can embed ethical value into their product. Witness organics, fair trade etc.

I only add to his insight to say that BSR, or brand social responsibility is the real opportunity. Organisations have legal duties. It is brands, whether product or corporate which carry ethical promises and implications and thereby acquire responsibility.

The 21st century challenge is not merely for Coca Cola Company to address its CSR duties, which are ultimately compliance and reporting-driven but for 'Coke' to shape its emotional and ethical context and cultivate value exchanges which are consistent with its sphere and scope of adress it's Corporate Marketing to all its brand customers - each and every stakeholder.

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Getting it right 

Who says big companies can't succeed by doing the right thing? Consider ASDA, the UK supermarket owned by Walmart. A very successful business also rated the best place to work by the Financial Times. Their People Director says
A job should be about a sense of belonging, having fun and being given the chance to balance work and family commitments... ASDA was neither a great business nor a great place to work in the early 90s. We were an overstretched company on the edge of bankruptcy... Archie (Norman, the boss) built recovery around our people and the next decade saw us making ASDA a great place to work because we knew it would then be a great place to shop...
I've blogged more on this at Mutual Marketing.
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December 10, 2003

The Open Space Piano - Emerging! 

The Open Space Piano - to have lived by knowing the possibility of organising human spirits to soar productively is something to try once in a real open space - this piano is the best I yet to know how to simulate in a screen, communal help sought to translate it better. Say if you want to replay the piano at your own web.

Time to
Trust &
Time &
Maths of
for real
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Being All You Can Be 

I’m interested in learning how other countries market recruitment for their armed forces, in countries where it’s neither compulsory or conscripted.

In the USA at present we have no draft, and one frequently sees recruitment adverts in the cinemas and on late-night television. With a palpable gap between what government does and how powerless people feel to influence it, I see a correlation between the way the armed forces needs to represent itself in order to attract canon fodder for our present incursions.

The adverts look like a combination of action movies, The Matrix, computer games and rock videos. Seduction by fantasy, founded on precepts developed in the consumer universe. By what means do other countries attract soldiers?

I wonder if service were mandatory (as in Switzerland or Israel, to name two extreme examples), perhaps people would have deeper investment in developing and shaping political process? Idle speculation on my part. Our leaders in the USA wouldn’t feel so free to behave imperially with people’s children if there wasn’t so much apathy or blind obedience or submission to the grand scale hoodwinking that’s gone on in recent history.

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Inquiry: how does one market a miracle? 

Having experienced a miraculous approach to organisation, I sincerely like to discuss how to openly market it with anyone who might have a clue.

Clues I don't need:
-certainly no advertising: reason the miracle works by people feeling, doing it once- it converts part of their soul to seeing organsiational folly wherever they occur

-certainly no proprietorial owner - that makes the worst kind of churches and communities rather than the most humanitarian ones

all ideas welcomed, chris macrae,
PS around the world , this method has been practised about 10000 times in the last 20 years; usually by 100 or so people at a time- so there is a worldwide network out there of believers, but like all miracles: talk about it too loudly outside of circles of people you trust most, and some power that be may try and stamp on your spirit
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Are brand names losing? 

The New York Times today claims Brand Names Are Paying the Price for a Change in Shopping Trends.
This holiday season, consumers seem to be searching for presents by category - a cashmere sweater, a set of chandelier earrings, a flat-panel TV, a cellphone or a pair of running shoes - more than for specific branded items, according to retailing analysts and pollsters.
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December 09, 2003

me consumerism - the mispent joy 

Yes mass media robs us of our most precious possession, quality time- and if we dont use the internet to demonstrate that people can organise real-time events that have purpose rather than superficiality, we'll have wasted our last connectivity chance to stand up for humanity

Claremont Professor Michael Csik... (sorry I cant spell his full name) has a nice calculation. A person's competence can be indexed as a percentage of time spent on the joy of accomplishing stuff seen as the exact opposite as the joy of instant self-gratification (consuming at its most image-ridden). This index, probably more than any other factor (including genetics), explains people who do stuff that other humans want from those who don't. We should teach this performance choice to our young before they get addicted to ad-led brands and all the mass media aims to time-steal from you, and from the social/communal spaces you and yours need to grow. To do this we should mix the 2 miracle communal (mediating) tools of our age : Open Space and the internet -- 20thannualsurveyonnet.doc
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Bowling for Nokia 

Watched "Bowling for Columbine" for the first time on UK terrestrial TV this weekend (yes, about time I know).

In Michael Moore's powerful investigation of why the US is gripped by a misplaced fear of gun violence, a comment by Marilyn Mansun seemed to make a lot of sense. He argued that the potent mix of "fear and consumerism" on US TV (partic the news networks) was warping people's minds. And in many ways he is right. There is a powerful cocktail (almost "Molotovian") in the contrast between the instant gratification of live news broadcasts (often of the latest violent shooting hunted down by the networks satellite trucks and helicopters) and the "out-of-reach" gratification of the TV ads, showing the latest Lexus or HUV for example. Going back to my blog below on social anguish, one can see how this can cumulatively add up to a detrimental impact on society.

But, what was particularly irksome about Sunday's broadcast was that in the second ad break after Mansun's comments, up pops a new ten second ad from Nokia. It was an ad for its new N-gage mobile handheld game - I didnt catch the name of it but the voiceover went something like this, "From next week, you become the hunter and its time to hunt them down. The new first person shoot-em-up for N-gage" accompanied by screen animation of the game character firing an automatic rifle at his human targets...

Maybe this is the only recorded case of reality-entertainment-reality TV or something like that... even so, how damn inappropriate and a clear case of "cleverness over relevance"

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Hear hear! 

Great minds think alike. Like Chris L (whose blog deserves more visitors!) I've also written about the Guardian article about the Selfish Society in the Mutual Marketing blog. I liked the author's term "social injuries" and I see a lot of marketing inflicting small but cumulatively large social injuries on the quality of society. It simply isn't good enough for organisations to say they are simply meeting a consumer need; we are all citizens and we must all take responsibility for the consequences of our actions.
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December 08, 2003

Me-consumerism and social anguish 

Seeing as I get just the one visitor to my blog each day, here's is a blog that I have just blogged on my blog... !

A piece in Saturday’s Guardian about how marketers are increasingly “dictating social norms” and the subsequent growth of the selfish society grabbed my attention at the weekend:

We live in a culture where the primacy of the self and its satisfactions is everything. We are bombarded with messages telling us that we should have what we want because we're worth it. As consumers, we are kings. We know that we have rights, that brands seek our favour; that as long as we can pay, we feel powerful. We like that sensation. It is seductive because it is so at odds with the reality of the rest of our lives. As workers and producers we are under more pressure and feel more insecure than ever before. Our private lives are increasingly unpredictable; our financial futures uncertain. There is no general respect for mundane lives, well lived, in a popular culture that celebrates wealth, beauty, celebrity, notoriety and youth. Most of us cannot feel confident about our worth and about the regard in which we are held.

Now it could be argued that this lack of self-worth and the anguish people suffer when faced with their “mundane” existential, reality is not a new pronouncement, not wishing to name any names.

But maybe there is a truth in a growing fear or anguish – one that people face when they are unable to meet the necessary consumption or lifestyle norms that are now all too frequently dictated to us by the market and by brands that increaingly act as critical, cultural signifiers to the status of our inner well-being?

Unable to live up to the market's expectations of us, we just aspire permanently (surely, a new name for an underarm deodorant there?!) until the next wave of consumerism awashes us in a new set of dreams and goals. And, as the article states, this permanent aspiration leads us fundamentally into selfish behaviours, where social obligations are viewed as contracts, where one party seeks to gain at the others expense rather than build empathy, respect and consideration through authentic relationships...
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RSS feed for Beyond Branding 

You'll see that the XML logo now appears top right on this site. That's because I've added two versions of RSS feeds; the first one courtesy of Feedster; the second one is by BlogStreet. Both seem to work in Sharpreader, let me know via our feedback page how either works for you.

What is RSS? Tony Goodson has blogged a good summary here.
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20th Annual Xmas Survey on Freedoms of Networking Age 

We're starting our (Chris & Norman Macrae) annual feedback survey on hopes of the internetworking age - if you have a great hope why not email to me at saying whether you want it reported anonymously or with your choice of attribution. Below some conversational starting points, connected to an European Union thread I moderate

Document for starting conversation on greatest human freedoms of inter-networking:

Connecting degrees of 3dom
Knowledge never again needs to be lost, or hi-costKnowledge the great ecological hope for 10 times more prosperity and social harmony Personal Confusion: what do you do when First Knowing 1000 people

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December 04, 2003

University of Stars - Final 2003 Update 

When it comes to be the time to have web-branded impact in the areas of reconciliation, peace-making , top 50 sustainability conflicts, corporate risk open collaboration, lets open up a new web, registered but as yet looking for a server of beyond distinction. The idea of University of Stars is to find good people/experts who are prepared to mentor emerging superstars on a responsibility or humanitarian discipline of their choice as a free swap for an occasional appearance at a youth movement or other cause related event where a hero’s appearance could do something huge. Also, its an inside way over the long-term of changing mass media forever now I know how people-rotting image-making has become. peace3net.ppt
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P&G - know thy essence 

John - I love your spirit. The agonising thing is that having made 2 fateful decsions : to enter late with a brand in supermarket juice-drinks and to be led by an ad agency, Sunny Delight was probably the very most effective that P&G could achieve. If they want to learn, they should ask what value did they really believe their corporate essence could bring to such a market?

Oddly I'd still fancy that there is a market to slowly cultivate for functional kids drinks but if that had been an intention, then the essence needed was a licence to do good for kids health, then absolutely let's shame anyone who delights in imaging the opposite of that reality-need
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December 03, 2003

Procter & Gamble: Enter the Hall of Shame 

Procter & Gamble have revealed their breathtaking inauthenticity in the desperate attempts to resurrect their Sunny Delight Brand. We could forgive them for producing another valueless kids drink; what's really appalling is their struggle to pretend that its really a healthy thing. I've blogged this in more detail over here.
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University of the Stars & Open Space Storytelling 

The piece on Wilkinson reminds me of one of my favourite network projects of the last quarter: University of the Stars- finding an upcoming superstar the opposite of their usual agent to mentor them on some responsibility Brand Me (mission in life). Uni of Stars works on a free trade basis- we'll find a start a mentor of a deep subject of their choice and free resources- in return the star helps with a guest appearnce for a cause related to their chosen mission

Meanwhile Open Space & Storytelling have gelled as the way I'm not as sure as I get that any group who want to go beyond anything, can. Firstly if UK banks and the treasury are using this dymnamic methodology duo brilliantly, its time to believe any power can. Secondly this conversational extract among the alumni and the oracle of Open Space, seems to me worth pasting here:

cc writes:
I think we are in a time when our stories about who we are and where we have come from are changing and paradigms are coming to rub against each other in deep ways. OST is a process predicated on the fact that all of us can have a hand in creating the new world. It is nearly the very extreme example of that, in the world of organizational development.

Other methods rely on facilitators or experts (sometimes called "management gurus" which isn't far from being gods) to come in and fix
things, banish the bad and tinker with the good. It's easy to see results when evil is banished. That is a tangible step towards the
"better world" demanded by cynics. It's much harder to see tangible results from a process where the first step towards making a safe place for your babies is to smear the back of a turtle with mud.

H.O. writes:
ChrisC – you have certainly moved the discussion in what I would consider to be wonderful new territory. There is no question in my mind that we are – to a very large extent – the stories we tell. Not the trivial little tales that appear in the morning newspapers, but the deep stories that constitute our mythic consciousness.

There used to be a day when the power of these deep stories was appreciated, but in recent times they are dismissed with the light thought that they are “just a story.” And of course we all know that only the “facts” will do. And when it comes to myths, these are not only dismissed, but dissed. Worse than a story, myth now means lie and falsehood. How the world changes. And of course, for enlightened people such as ourselves, we have long since thrown off the bondage of myth. How sad. And we never really do – throw it off, that is. We simply develop new ones, and they of course, are understood to be The Truth, or better yet Scientific Truth. But it is still a story, now dressed up in different clothes. We call them “Theories” – but at the end of the day, these Theories are simply likely stories which help us interpret our world. So our essential nature hasn’t changed – we are still story tellers whose life expectations are shaped by the stories we tell. Myth by any other name. What is different now is that the formative power of these tales is somehow out of our awareness. And when the stories are warped, distorted or partial – the world and our space in that world is distorted and shrunk. Of course, we could tell a different story. . .

And I think that new story creation is a major part of what happens in Open Space. But it is not so much telling a story as being a story.

Join in some of the biggest virtual change conversations going 1 , or tell us one to add
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Jonny Wilkinson – unintentional author of the new celebrity brand manifesto? 

News that England’s latest all-conquering rugby sporting hero is refusing to sell-out to corporate sponsors and marketers as well as the soft-grained “celeb-at-home” magazines, OK and Hello could be setting a radical new manifesto for celebrity branding!

The similarity between Jonny’s stance (he is so famous now, the whole country is on first name terms) and the Beyond-Branding manifesto are uncanny, as an article in this weekend’s Observer revealed!! For example,

Authenticity - 'Since England came back with the World Cup, there's been a huge amount of interest in Jonny. It's been amazingly busy, with a stream of requests from television channels, media outlets, companies and corporate people, all wanting Jonny to do things', said Tim Buttimore, his agent. 'But we have turned them all down because Jonny wants to be known as the best rugby player he can possibly be and not as a celebrity'.

Substance over image – “While actors, singers and television presenters seeking to establish their reputations usually go along with media requests to talk about their personal lives and do revealing photo-shoots, Wilkinson is doing the opposite. 'He seems to think the fame game is shallow and has decided that he doesn't want to play it', said a leading sports agent.”

Honesty – When asked if he would now be recognised in McDonalds, the great man replied, “No, I haven’t been to McDonalds for four years”!!

Transparency – “There are pluses and minuses in Wilkinson’s transparency, and perhaps the minuses are part of the pluses” claims a well-known celebrity publicist.

So the pundits are saying that Wilkinson's stance 'could change the rules of engagement of the celebrity merry-go-round by showing people that you don't have to play the tabloid game, or say yes to every deal you're offered, or show your body off, or sacrifice their normality. He could make a fortune, but instead it looks like he's opted to use his status wittingly or unwittingly to break the mould of celebrity and become a new sort of star whose name is synonymous with substance over style. That is refreshing”
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What brand are you? 

Last night I shared a couple of pints with Ben Terrett of The Design Conspiracy who created the spoof website What Brand Are You. This has gone majorly viral, as this BBC article says:
Aviva, Diageo, Corus... the trend for rebranding companies with "nonsense" names has led to some notable additions to the corporate lexicon.

But a stunt designed to ridicule the tendency has come back to haunt its creators after several spoof names were registered for real.
Ben and I found much to agree on about the superficiality of most branding exercises, and the popularity of his spoof is further evidence of the absurdity with which these things are done.
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December 01, 2003

Whose brand? 

The excellent newsletter from E-customer service world points me to the concept of The Brand Canyon, developed by Lou Carbone, who says this:
You cannot NOT have an experience. Organisations that don't get how to move from product to service to crafting a customer experience tend to use the brand as a substitute for an experience. That's what we call the Brand Canyon, the gap between the language and the experience it creates. You have to learn how to cross it.
I have mixed feelings about this. First, I absolutely agree that there is often a large gap between organisations' use of language and people's real experience. This is at the heart of what I've written in our book on Authenticity. And if Carbone is helping businesses to close some of this gap, well done.

I admit to liking the phrase "Brand Canyon" until I learnt that Carbone has trademarked it. That's where I start to feel umcomfortable and fear that perhaps this guy has fallen into the belief that brands can be owned and controlled by organisations, and that it's solely for them to engineer their customers' experience. What goes with that concept is the need to own and control the symbols - as exemplified by trademarking a nice little phrase like Brand Canyon.

(Mind you, perhaps he's trademarked it to stop someone else from trademarking it, such is the nature of business.)

Anyway, my thought for today's day of Gridblogging on Brand is to think of brands as communal property and to recognise that our experiences of brands are always co-created. That's my caveat on the otherwise positive sounding movement to customer-centricity. I think the most exciting brand developments are those where communities form around brands - as with Open Space software - and the conventional buyer-seller power game is transcended. You'll find more of this kind of thinking explored chaotically at my other communal blog, Brand Activism/The Mutualist Manifesto.

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That was the net that was 

On this day, when bloggers are talking about brand- let's consider the exercise of being a brand manager for the net.

What a hell of a job that would be if this paper is right.
The value of the net has already peaked. Not because of any failure on the parts of more and more people putting their great time and works on it, but because forces are trying to partition its openness faster than any connectivity value all we networkers build.

Unless we teach folk of every age and power why the value multipiers of openness provide people's greatest chance to make the most of our talents, the network age is already over, closed before we all had a chance to play with the greatest invention known to our race.

I believe that some of the most valuable research on networeks is going on here but would most welcome your advice on other great links
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