A brand is a place

Hugh at GapingVoid is in cracking form with The Hughtrain Manifesto. Worth reading the whole thing but here are two bits I focussed on.

A brand is a place not a thing: Media is not ‘entertainment’ or ‘information’. Media is an interface. Interface implies action. For example I leave Buzzmachine [my favorite website] more switched on than when I entered. So for me there’s an actual kinetic quality about visiting there.

So many brand “experts” blather on about brands as if they are solid objects, mostly because this supports the fantasy that they and their clients can control them (and in so doing control us, the poor schmucks who buy them). This way of thinking kills. The dead and rotting bodies of many dismal organisations lie embalmed in the laminated platitudes of old-style admen and brand consultants.

I like brands where there is some spark of life about my interactions with them. I like Pret a Manger because when I shop there I don’t have to feel either depressed by the service or sorry for the people who work there. There is some kind of friction between them and me, some sense of aliveness that is often lacking in a world where employee engagement is so low.

I like the idea that a brand is a place because it conveys the idea the that the brand is a host for transactions/conversations it might influence but not control.

The hardest part of a CEO’s job is sharing his enthusiasm with his colleagues, especially when a lot of them are making one-fiftieth of what he is. Selling the company to the general public is a piece of cake compared to selling it to the actual people who work for it.

This seems pretty spot on, watching the unedifying display at Marks & Spencer, where two multi-millionaires have battled over control of the lives of its many employees. The current boss turns up for the AGM in a

3 thoughts on “A brand is a place

  1. fouroboros

    Place. Couldn’t agree more. State of mind, even.

    US retailer Anthropologie gets this, I imagine Pret a Manger shares a similar sensibilty and employee gene pool.

    Nice find, Johnie.

  2. Adriana

    Hm, I see what you mean. I had the same discussion with a friend of mine, Alan Moore, and we concluded that brand is a behaviour. Different word but the substance seems the same.

  3. hugh macleod

    Heh. Thanks for the mention.

    Yeah, once you get out of the static/object mode of thinking about “brand” it becomes much easier.

    Nice observation about Pret A Manger. That’s exactly whay I’m talking about…




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