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Dec 06, 2004


David Burn

This is good stuff. Thanks for making the effort and for linking to me. I'm also glad to know that I'm an innovator. I thought maybe I was just a measly early adopter.

Evelyn Rodriguez

David, just after I post this and THEN see your recent sermon comparing Lovemarks and the Hughtrain - very perceptive remarks (perhaps you like to have one foot on each side as well - I keep getting an image of doing a cheerleading split over the Grand Canyon):

Innovator, trend translator, laggard, whatever - it really doesn't matter so much where we slot ourselves. A good marketer should be able to wear any and all those hats and step into any of those skins and live in THAT customer's world if only for a moment.

On a personal front, it's more effective to look at ourselves as open, dynamic, and continuous learning OR as closed systems rather where we fit into the buzz curve.

Evelyn Rodriguez

Yeah, on second thought, it is more accurate to have titled: "Open Letter to the Lunatic Fringe and Alphas" (The Anatomy of Buzz's Innovators and Early Adopters lingo).

Jack Cheng

Those are some excellent points Evelyn, thanks.

David Burn

I really have both my feet in the branding camp. I see the Cluetrain "markets are conversations" idea as branding. It's bottom-up, not top-down branding.

I'm still confused as to why people on the Cluetrain, Hugh MacLeod being one of the more prominent voices, posit that "branding is dead." Perhaps what they really mean to say is top-down branding is dead.

John D

Great post Evelyn. I'd like to add - I think relationship is as alive as people want it to be. And I doubt the change we're witnessing is just to bottom-up branding. The notion of branding has to be taken apart altogether. Though for now, Eveyln, I agree, still lots of folks on the Titanic, still lots of books to be sold on Lovemarks. Hell, it's simple economics!

"Branding", like "marketing" - whether it's top down within the organization or bottom up within the organization - amounts to 'putting it to' cattle or the marketplace. But as the reality of the empowerment that the internet and other networks can give sinks in, markets will ineveitably be realized as places of reciprocation and community, rather than the corporation's jungle gym. This is the prediction of Cluetrain, and the hope for a bound and branded world.

David Burn

By bottom-up I mean the people on the street, not inside the organization. Markets are conversations. I agree. Thus, corporations need to listen to their customers and prospects, in many cases for the fist time.

What's dead is the one-way conversation that we typically think of as brand advertising.


Got it David. Ill get off my high horse now. I agree, 2 way, I think like in any real relationship, there has to be circulation back and forth.

James Cherkoff

I've been chatting with a Saatchi executive who has just left the organisation after six years. He tells me that no one there 'really' believes in Love Marks, 'from Richard Hytner' down.


One would think that with blogs, we would have a higher level of communication. However, it seems that isn't always the case. Especially, in regard to these discussions on branding/marketing. It seems the principles of each camp - Love Marks, Hughtrain, etc - make their statements via the blogdom, then it's left to the readership to determine what the other camp means. Why don't we invite them to do what Rick Bruner did and have a blog with multiple authors? If nothing else, we would have a single blog to visit in order to hear the conflicting viewpoints....even better, how about a Point/Counterpoint podcast between Hugh and Kevin ("Jane, you ignorant slut" is still one of the funniest TV moments ever)?

So, Evelyn, why don't you intercede and get this event going? I know Hugh admires and reads your blog. Likely, he would be open to this. Maybe, get Johnnie Moore to be the moderator?

Regardless of getting the two camps together for a chat, I think there are a couple of truths out there.

One, communication with the customer is changing rapidly due to the internet/blogs. The old mediums - paper/TV/Radio - are losing effectiveness. New mediums based upon internet and other communication tools will take over eventually. For example, it's not a difficult stretch to imagine a ring back tone becoming an advertisement instead of a standard ring back tone or a musical version currently being rolled out by the cell carriers. Absolutely nothing can prevent Verizon/T-Mobile,etc from doing that little trick. The alternative would be subscribing to their musical ring tone features. A nasty, but profitable trick. The company that doesn't respond to and utilize the new mediums will be fighting an uphill battle.

Two, Evelyn is we look back and discuss Lovemarks/Cluetrain, we are missing the next fringe. The demographics are changing daily....youth are a different breed of customers, communication with them is totally different and their needs/wants are going to be different than a Lovemarks customer. As we spend time discussing branding is dead/not dead, the new market is arriving and many will be ill prepared to deal with them.

So, as the chasm is straddled, lean more to the new and unknown side and be prepared to leap to that side. We are at another inflection point in the world and the next 12 to 18 months will be pivotable for many inhabitants of the marketing world. Whether one stays on the known side of the chasm or leaps to the unknown side, it's best to choose one instead of falling into the chasm. Of course, falling into the chasm may not be too bad either and could turn out to be an alternate path for the same journey.

Evelyn Rodriguez

Wow, miss one day of being online - was in back-to-back meetings yesterday in SF, turns out mostly with fellow bloggers - and get way behind.

Great points. I might have to write a post to adequately respond.

David: Bottom-up. I like that, yep, comes from people on the street. As far as feet on both sides of the chasm, I didn't mean so much anti-branding or pro-branding. I meant you seemed to be able to talk to both innovators and early majority well, thus bridging the chasm (I use chasm in the classic Geoffrey Moore sense, not as general analogy) and finding common ground.

John D: Even in Lovemarks, Roberts stresses the importance of spending time with customers within their own environment and discusses ethnography. Lovemarks may not go far enough, but the point of this post wasn't that it was hitting the early majority & late majority (where economics of books sold are), but that something resembling Lovemarks was a necessary passage in many folks evolution of thought to get to point where this discussion we're seeing for instance in this comment thread isn't totally foreign and isn't totally dismissed.

James: Ooh, you got me curious. What DOES your Saatchi exec buddy believe in?

JBR: Hmmm, interesting thoughts. Johnnie has highly encouraged Kevin and people at Saatchi to join in. Yes, I'm also more curious about what is right in front of our noses and what's right around the corner and being involved with actively creating and participating it. I hope all of you are too.


Well, not quite what requested, but over at Bruner's blog .....

he has invited Bob Bly, direct mktg expert to sit in on a AMA blog seminar on 21January in NY. Will be interesting a comment back to Rick, I have requested a podcast or blogcast of the "Hammah at AMA"...cheesy title, but it reminds me of boxing and Ali in his prime...

Thom Lawrence

"By bottom-up I mean the people on the street, not inside the organization"

One of the most powerful themes in Cluetrain is that there are humans on _both_ sides of the firewall. Listen first, sure, but that's not a conversation. Some of the most passionate geeks in your industry should be inside your organization, otherwise there's nobody for your market to have a conversation _with_. Surely?

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