advertising and other stuff. no, really.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A brand retreats as social media nation cheers.

Yea! everyone *passionate* about social media! (Least that’s what their Twitter profiles say.) Fist bumps all around for making a difference! See, behold the awesome power of social media! (Hope I’ve covered off the requisite number of social media exclamation points!)

I’m one of those @holes however, who thinks the Gasp Gap should’ve told everyone to chill because they’re sticking with their logo. If you believe that a logo change or rebranding isn’t the answer for a company with other problems, then it really wouldn’t matter, right? Sure collectively, a lot of people hated it — I thought it was generic, no hate — but were you going to not shop at the Gap anymore because of it?


As one comment on Ad Age succinctly put it: “I also still don't like the Brooks Brothers logo, but they make a great dress shirt.” Nobody doubts that the Gap can’t make nice clothes; they seem more concerned over the brand’s relevance to their lives than anything. But this is where the problem with social media nation comes in.

On one hand, designers and blogs of small design firms got the issue on the radar of the larger media sharks above, who then swam in for a closer look. Cue outrage and a brand redacting itself LIVE ON FACEBOOK.

On the other, it also highlights the disconnect between the social media crowd and consumers. 80% of consumers asked in an Ad Age survey didn’t even know the logo had changed. This as the agency Laird & Partners got torn a new one, even though internally, I’m sure they had already covered off many of the *fine* suggestions that armchair logo gurus came up with on their own. L+P does get attention for its clients though. (Cue Audrey Hepburn.)

There’s another aspect to this too which risks becoming a jumping off point for a longer discussion, but where do we draw the line here? The big fallacy perpetuated in social media circles is that *the consumer customer* — nobody can even agree on what to call them — is in control.

I disagree.

The consumer may control how they respond to the brand and its product, or in how the brand treats them, but that’s not the same thing. Otherwise, if I can make you change your logo, then why shouldn’t I also be allowed to direct your commercials, help you figure out the best shipping routes for your trucks, write your employee guidelines for Facebook, or do any of the hundreds of other things a company has to deal with each day in running its business.

That’s not to say a brand can’t or shouldn’t invite their community into the fold and become part of the process. (Look at Lego or Ford and any number of brands who *embrace* this and do cool things with it.) I’m just saying, there’s this sense of entitlement people in social media seem to push where they think it’s okay for all consumers to have a say in every brand’s life, and if the brand doesn’t acquiesce, they’re torn apart in the court of public opinion as being backwards in their thinking.

While not doing so *might* be the smartest strategy at times, brands are under no obligation to let you take control. So rejoice gurus, I leave you with these thoughts, said with nothing but love...

You freaking people. You have no idea how to defend a logo. All you did was weaken a brand today. That’s all you did. You put people’s careers in danger. Sweet dreams, social media nation.

1 comment:

Dan Goldgeier said...

Totally agree about the whole "control" nonsense some people are buying into.

And Bill, keep your billet. We need you on that wall.