If you've listened to any of my recent podcasts, there's a good chance you've heard me mention John Battelle's book THE SEARCH.
It's one of the best books I've read on the internet in years and I'd like to thank whoever made the decision to throw a copy of it into the BlogOn2005 schwag bag.
In a bit of the book I was reading this morning, John describes an example of how, in the near future, someone would walk into a food store, hold their mobile phone up to a bottle of wine, scan the barcode, and use a Google application to do a price and availability check on that bottle in nearby stores. I remember talking about similar scenarios about five years ago in my PERPETUAL REVOLUTION talk.
Anyway... in this chapter, Battelle suggests that "information replaces relationships" and it struck me as the perfect way of articulating something I've been trying to say for years about the death of brands. It sounded like "hyperlinks subvert hierarchies".
Brand marketing folks often say that a brand is a shortcut for things that we think about a company - eg quality, value, trust, etc.
But in 60 seconds, I can Google your company, your product, your service, and know more about it than most of your employees. What does this mean for your brand? It means that, as far as I'm concerned anyway, your brand means little beyond the product name. Who you are and what you do is what matters. And I can find that out in seconds. No amount of advertising or brand management can overcome my search.
And I'm often being told, usually by media properties and telcos that have enjoyed a monopoly or oligopoly for decades in the Australian market, that "people trust our brand". I cough out a "bullshit" and try to explain that lack of choice does not equal trust. It might equal brand awareness but they are not the same thing. Get your lips off of the company tail pipe and pay attention.
"INFORMATION REPLACES RELATIONSHIPS".
And it replaces "brand value". You are what you did yesterday. You are the conversation you are having with me today. You are the top five Google search results. That perhaps isn't how your entire market values you - today. But give us five more years. I am your worst nightmare and I am the future of your business.