Conquent: Without Limits
Conquent: Without Limits
Michael Bissell's Blog

It's the Brand, Baby

2008-07-30 15:38:00
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I really believe that we can build a sexy brand that people love, evangelize, and want to be part of. I don't even care what the product is, but I've attracted a lot of amazing talent over the years with a mediocre business model, hardly any pay, and an unfocused brand.

It's my belief in the "whole is greater than the sum of the parts" and that the human experience is a hell of a lot more than sitting in a cube and doing linear work that attracts people to Conquent. I've got a hip work ethic, and a boring business model supporting bunch of dull clients.

So, let's take the kernel of what gets me up in the middle of the night to hammer on my keyboard and dissect the problems.

Old School and New Media
There are basically two kinds of companies online. There are the new media companies like Google and Facebook. Heck, throw in Yahoo and MSN while we're at it.

These companies succeed as maverick, explosive growth, edgy companies. While traditional business looks at the Facebook model, they look at it the way you look at a concept car at an auto show -- it's cool as hell, but you won't ever drive the thing.

The credible companies online are credible because of their offline presence. I'm talking traditional news outlets like CNN and The New York Times. They lean heavily on their old school practices and existing infrastructure.

Merging old school and new media hasn't worked very well for companies like Time Warner (and they're partly a tech company), although it's hard to say what's what in the corporate ownership game these days.

I have always tried to bring new media to old school companies. And it doesn't work. Old School companies have to be ready to change, and as soon as you shine the brilliant light of the internet into the mausoleum that is traditional business, the skeletons start to get ugly and you get dragged down into the pit.

Okay, maybe a bit too colorful of a metaphor, but the reality is that I've allowed my clients to set the standard of work for my company, and that has got to change. Yet, I still have to make money. So, I need to attract clients who are really ready to make the jump into the new world.

It's the brand, baby
We've talked about Apple with their amazing strategy of perfection and secrecy to create an elite brand. We know Nike (anyone who succeeds in getting people to get a tattoo of their logo is doing a hell of a job), and then there are cult things like PBR (be prepared to watch it disappear now that Miller owns them) and the fashion/music/Hollywood world where the brand is all there is.

I think what's got me inspired right now is Barack Obama. This man is succeeding because he's built a brand that's hip and encourages hip people to play. It's simultaneously the most old-school, grey suited product (federal politics) and the sexiest power position on the planet.

Anyone can understand the outcome, but you can play in so many ways. Bumper stickers and yard signs be damned, we're talking ring tones, social networks, micro donations, and easy access to the process.

Moving forward
We need that ONE thing people understand. Something sexy, but easy to understand. Something cool, which can be used by anyone. We need to use it as the evangelical point. We need a follow up.

We need a way to get people involved beyond using the thing. We need them to buy into the collaborative, mobile, mentality. We're living in the future right now, and we need to open up as many of those mausoleums as we can and clean some dust out of the brains of our peers.

New media tools aren't making us dumb, they're making us think differently. We have instant access to the sum of human knowledge. Well, some of us do.

So my core philosophy is to get everyone in the mix, find a way to organize their blogs, their communities, their business propositions, and learn what we have at the end of the today, and then see what we have when we wake up in the morning.

Lessons Learned From Apple
Business Architecture vs. Web Construction

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