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August 21, 2003

Deleting brand noise 

Michael Taht writes to us highlighting his own personal campaign against brand noise in his blog. Exhausted by the omnipresence of brands all over his kitchen, he resorts to sticking post-it notes over the offending logos to give himself a little peace.

Of course, this is just one version of the many ways in which people are finding ways to ignore the Blandishments of Brands. Another - which Michael highlights in his email - is to counter attack with word of mouth. Here lies at least part of the explanation for the underperformance of several would-be blockbuster movies this year. ("Texting blamed for summer movie flops").

If human conversations (a la Cluetrain) are gaining power, what can organisations do? Well, they're not going to be able to rely so much on the half-hearted adherence of staff to their corporate mantras. One of my favourite interventions in marketing meetings these days is to interrupt the regular obsession with questions like "will the customers believe this?" with the simple question: "Never mind the customer, do you believe this?" Often, the really significant response is not the word "no" but the preceding, barely-disguised shock at actually being asked to give a personal opinion at all.

But if out there in what we laughingly call the real world, real conversations are taking place where real feelings are expressed, then businesses are going to have to let their people do the same thing. Which will present a challenge for those brands whose internal conversational repertoire rarely goes beyond "Does my bum look big in this?"
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