Jennifer Rice at the Brandshift blog making good sense as usual.

What survives unscathed in a massive storm isn’t the huge tree but the flexible grass. A company’s ability and willingness to flex in the grassroots economy, rather than rigidly trying to maintain a fixed brand, will be the one that endures. Yes, there will be bloggers writing about your company. There will be creative souls who decide to make their own commercials for your company. Customers will break your rules and create their own. You will wring your hands in anguish because what’s happening isn’t consistent with your brand strategy. You can either ignore them, sue them… or flex. Like it or not, they’re part of your brand ecology. Join their discussion instead of requiring them to join yours. If you don’t like what they’re saying, rethink your business and give them something better to talk about.

Grass doesn’t try to bend against the wind. Smart sailors plan their routes with the trade winds, not against them. Smart companies don’t fake reality and pretend that they maintain 100% control over their brands.

6 thoughts on “Flexing

  1. Tom Asacker

    What survives in a sea storm? An ocean liner or a row boat? Don’t you just love metaphors?

  2. Johnnie Moore

    Fair point Tom. I suppose it might be useful to recognise metaphors as illustrations rather than as proof. I think that’s what Jennifer had in mind. Mind you, love or hate ’em, it’s how us humans seem to think!

  3. Tom Guarriello

    Two points from me:

    First, we should not underestimate the courage it takes to allow your brand (especially a successful one) to be organic, to change and adapt in unanticipated ways. Every fibre of an executive’s being has been trained to manage the bloody thing, not to let it “drift” (which is what it feels like when you’re not “controlling” it.) I watch people struggle with this daily. It’s hard.

    Second, dueling metaphors is a great pastime. Jennifer and Tom demonstrate that we can find metaphorical expressions for just about any position we hold…and usually do!

  4. Johnnie Moore

    Tom: Yes, duelling metaphors could be fun. I am a tad more optimistic about the executives though; in the end the skills for being playful and creating with others are in our DNA and all the training in the world can’t quite get rid of it. I find a lot of executives do “get” the idea or being more open to collaboration… especially when they see if working dramatically for others.

  5. Tom Guarriello

    Playfulness and creativity are certainly part of our DNA. Applying those aspects of ourselves in the serious business of business is the challenge. Seeing lots of successful examples will lead to more experimentation, still requiring substantial courage, I find.


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