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January 27, 2005



This ties into your work with the brain...look at your title, "Brand Humanity" - that's not possible, isn't your brain jammed up just trying to process that? What is that? What you are searching for is a contextualized identity statement and what we are both trying to accomplish is getting marketing to focus on identity statements and using the product to support her in her various identities throughout the day. The consumer is human not the brand. The brand enhances her life. The brand fits her contextualized needs and neurally manages her life for her. I'd love to talk to you about your work..I think we are both trying to get to the same place. I think.

jennifer rice

Johnnie, thanks for the elaboration. Brands are definitely emergent and co-created, although I think there still is a role for a brand manager to ensure that the core values of an organization (the way in which the company dialogues) is consistent. For example, sex jokes are consistent with Hugh McLeod's brand; they're not with mine (at least not with my clients!).

And JBR: thanks for your comment and observations. I view a brand as an idea that resides in the minds of customers (and employees, etc.)... and that idea is created by what a company says or does through its employees. It's all about interactions, connections and reputation. Your marathon sponsorship is one of many ways that a company can connect with a community and create an impression. It's ideal if the company not only sponsored the event, but its employees were active IN the event as ambassadors to help humanize the brand.


I am not a mktg/branding type or expert. Thus, my opinion may or may not have weight/meaning. Regardless, people will have a positive/negative view of a company by how they interact with the company. It may not be a direct interaction, but it's an interaction that gives an impression that sticks in a person's mind.

For example, my company sponsors a major marathon each year. We don't "make or sell" marathons or running gear. However, we likely receive a positive impression of our company from people in that marathoning community. It's not a brand of ours, but it is something that provides an avenue for interaction.

So, for me, it can be about many things that provide interactions. From a personal level - an employee leaves a good impression on a person and that person then thinks the company is "good" because of that interaction - to the above marathon example. I think a company needs to see the totality of how they can be perceived to effectively go about exploring how to "brand" themselves....hopefully, this makes sense.

Johnnie Moore

You won't be surpised to find me nodding approvingly.

Brands emerge from all the human interactions. They emerge; they don't follow the tune of would be branding Pied Pipers. This is bad news for conventional branding consultants and all their dull, complicated pyramids, missions statements, value propositions etc etc.

I find the whole Ries/Trout notion of owning words in people's heads a bit dated too, as well as a little unpleasant. Maybe it works for thing products, but not for services that depend on lots of human interest and engagement.

I think the focus needs to move away from brand strategy and towards facilitation: creating atmospheres inside organisations that allow folks to collaborate well and support individuals in taking risks. That probably means making a nice bonfire of all those corporate identity manuals, showing your Madison Avenue agencies the door and getting better at good conversations, minus the jargon and the hype.

There, you got me going.

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