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Beyond Branding is written by members of The Medinge Group

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December 01, 2003

Whose brand? 

The excellent newsletter from E-customer service world points me to the concept of The Brand Canyon, developed by Lou Carbone, who says this:
You cannot NOT have an experience. Organisations that don't get how to move from product to service to crafting a customer experience tend to use the brand as a substitute for an experience. That's what we call the Brand Canyon, the gap between the language and the experience it creates. You have to learn how to cross it.
I have mixed feelings about this. First, I absolutely agree that there is often a large gap between organisations' use of language and people's real experience. This is at the heart of what I've written in our book on Authenticity. And if Carbone is helping businesses to close some of this gap, well done.

I admit to liking the phrase "Brand Canyon" until I learnt that Carbone has trademarked it. That's where I start to feel umcomfortable and fear that perhaps this guy has fallen into the belief that brands can be owned and controlled by organisations, and that it's solely for them to engineer their customers' experience. What goes with that concept is the need to own and control the symbols - as exemplified by trademarking a nice little phrase like Brand Canyon.

(Mind you, perhaps he's trademarked it to stop someone else from trademarking it, such is the nature of business.)

Anyway, my thought for today's day of Gridblogging on Brand is to think of brands as communal property and to recognise that our experiences of brands are always co-created. That's my caveat on the otherwise positive sounding movement to customer-centricity. I think the most exciting brand developments are those where communities form around brands - as with Open Space software - and the conventional buyer-seller power game is transcended. You'll find more of this kind of thinking explored chaotically at my other communal blog, Brand Activism/The Mutualist Manifesto.

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