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Five questions about authenticity and the open source way with Jim Gilmore


A few months ago, I had the opportunity to meet Jim Gilmore, co-author (with Joseph Pine) of the book Authenticity: What Consumers Really Want. I first read the book a few years ago, and it really struck a nerve for me—these guys were on to something.

So I convinced Jim to subject himself to a Five Questions interview about the place where authenticity and the open source way intersect.

CHRIS: After joining the open source world ten years ago, it didn’t take me long to figure out that most open source folks despise marketing as it is traditionally practiced. Is there something inherently inauthentic about the language of marketing? Perhaps open source folks have a low tolerance for inauthenticity?

JIM: I often quote from a letter-to-the-editor that appeared in the Harvard Business Review following the publication of our article, “Welcome to the Experience Economy.” In this letter, Robert Jones of Wolf-Olins shared his definition of a brand as “the promise of an experience.”

Joe Pine and I responded by saying Amen to that, but added that so often the actual experience fails to fulfill against the promise.  Indeed, marketing in general, and advertising in particular, has become a giant phoniness-generating machine.  And not just the language of marketing, but the very practice of marketing so often serves to erode the perception of authenticity among consumers—by making promises that bear little resemblance to the actual experience encountered.

So much creative talent today is engaged in making promises as marketing instead of being employed to create compelling experiences as actual output.  The experience itself should be the marketing.

My friend Robert Stephens, founder of the Geek Squad, is fond of saying, “Advertising is the tax you pay for being unremarkable.”  I feel that way about most marketing.  I’d like to see creative talent diverted from making messages about goods and services and used instead to help create truly remarkable experiences, ones so compelling that they command a fee as product.

[Read the rest of this post on opensource.com]

Facebook breaks the brand permission rules


Back in February, I wrote a post about how Google stepped beyond its brand permission limits with the launch of the Buzz platform, a classic brand mistake (read more about brand permission here or here). Over the last few months, Facebook has also moved into a dangerous brand space, and may be doing permanent damage to its brand in the process.

You’ve probably seen people (or participated in) spewing venom at Facebook about its privacy practices, so I certainly won’t rehash that stuff here. If this is news to you, and you want to see what people are saying and how Facebook is responding, this interview in The New York Times with Facebook’s VP for Public Policy from earlier this week is a good starting point.

So, beyond the (really good) privacy reasons, why is it so bad that Facebook is making more of your information public by default? What’s the brand mistake? Let’s again look to the brand tags site for some clues. According to the site, the top terms associated with Facebook are:

addictive
annoying
boring
college
community
friends
fun
kids
lame
myspace
networking
people
social networking
stupid
waste of time
young

I’ve put in bold a few terms I think are especially important. If I was to put them in a sentence, it’d read something like “Facebook is a social networking site where people have fun or waste time with their community of friends.”

For most people, this sentence describes the service they signed up for. And hundreds of millions of people must value the Facebook brand for this purpose, because Facebook has been one of the fastest growing platforms the world has ever seen.

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Toyota gives customer-driven design the green light


A few weeks ago, Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst wrote an article for BusinessWeek suggesting that Toyota might benefit from doing things the open source way when it comes to building the software inside its automobiles.

From Jim’s article:

Open source is about leveraging the power of participation to solve complex problems such as manufacturing, health care, and government. This advantage is why numerous 21st century successes—from Google to Facebook to Wikipedia—are all based on open-source software and principles. It may also be how Toyota can improve its vehicles and ultimately regain consumer trust.

Toyota may be listening.

Last week, Associated Press reported that Toyota has opened a new Design Quality Innovation Division. The new group will be led by Kiyotaka Ise, formerly of Toyota’s Lexus subsidiary, and will be tasked with more quickly reflecting customer feedback in automobile design.

[Read the rest of this post on opensource.com]

Hey, I Wrote a Book!

The Ad-Free Brand: Secrets to Building Successful Brands in a Digital World

Available now in print and electronic versions.

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