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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]

About Chris Grams

Chris Grams is President & Partner of New Kind, where he builds sustainable brands, cultures, and communities in and around organizations. He is the author of The Ad-Free Brand: Secrets to Successful Brand Positioning in a Digital World and is the Community Guide on the Management Innovation Exchange (hackmanagement.com).

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