There’s a very interesting manifesto that Jonathan Salem Baskin, columnist at Advertising Age and author of the book ‘Branding only works on cattle’ has come up with. His basic premise is that we live in a post-branded world where brands are on the decline because it is so much more difficult to create and maintain loyal consumers than ever before, no matter what new viral campaign they come up with. He also enumerates the reasons why businesses need to re-orient their way of working in keeping with this reality. This is something I’ve thought about for a while now, and has made me more confident than ever before that it is the rationale behind the action that counts and not the action itself, because the action is often perceived as a one-off and cannot create lasting impact – which Baskin says in so many ways.
Essentially, he says that a brand today is all about the experience, because reality is what people talk about and technology has empowered them to talk about in whatever way they want, and that consumers are no longer silly enough to believe whatever drivel a brand throws at them – if they try using terms that are vague and not authentic and easy to understand, people can sniff it out a mile away. All they need to do is Google the term, really. Only one thing he said I don’t quite agree with – yet. He doesn’t believe in integrated marketing and says a brand should integrate over time, not content. For example, quoting a website in a radio ad doesn’t make sense because drivers aren’t likely to write it down. My argument would be that they aren’t going to write it down, but if it is sufficiently memorable, they’ll go check it out later. I’ve done that many times – remembered something and then gone back home to see what it’s about on the site. I think marketing should be integrated over time AND content, as long as the message is not compromised. Which is another thing Baskin says – that what matters is the message, and it has to come from the experience of the media instead of being inserted into it.
I appreciate the fact that he’s encouraged brands to modify the manifesto as they see fit – to take it as a starting point and ‘make it their own’. He’s given everyone food for thought – and by keeping the conclusion open-ended, encouraged discussion, which is what any strong message should aim to achieve. Funnily enough, I think the manifesto has helped his OWN brand, as a personality!