My way? Branding in a personalized world

I follow comments on articles and posts with not-so-always-as-unattached-as-it-should-be bemusement; quite often the article/post is more of a catalyst than an actual source of information.

I’m struck by a thought tonight though, after a particularly vitriolic back-and-forth session on a Daily Show post: what will “authenticity” look like in the future, and how will we recognize it?

There used to be “trusted” authoritarian figures – Cronkite, Brokaw, those types. But with the advent of “social media”, our trusted advisers are friends, or others in our community (digital or otherwise). Fine. But as the noise goes up digitally (increasingly everyone has a loud opinion), will it perversely create closer “real life” ties as a “safe” refuge from the melee?

And if brands are currently scrambling to take advantage of the current channels/technologies and create relationships with customers, instead of pushing messages (a paradigm shift that very few have managed to successfully understand yet), how will they deal with this change?

Some say “branding” will be more important than ever, and in the short term perhaps they are right. But there is a whole generation of people who will not have brand relationship as we did for the first part of their life, and are developing their own “digital communities” from the beginning, growing up swimming in a sea of constant, instant communication. How will they find and become loyal to brands if the communities are formed – and distrustful of “outsiders” – from the start?

For that matter, how will be be exposed to alternate ideas & philosophies, something critical to maturity and intellectual growth?

I was thinking about this a while back, because of services like Pandora. So neat, really, to just start it with a few artists/songs you like, and then (theoretically) never have to hear another song you don’t like. Personalization at it’s best.

The problem with that is, there are whole genres of music I’ve never even heard of, and end up liking when someone makes me aware of them. How is this going to happen if from the beginning of my life I’ve had it only served up “my way”? How will I know what “my way” is? Particularly if I only interact with groups (virtual and otherwise) I already know, and “trust”.  

A lot to ponder.

Just a thought.

Update 11/16/10: Ted Koppel wrote an article for the Washington Post today titled “Olbermann, O’Reilly and the death of real news” where he discusses the lack of “trusted authority” in a fragmented, 24 hour media world. Here’s my favorite quote:

Broadcast news has been outflanked and will soon be overtaken by scores of other media options. The need for clear, objective reporting in a world of rising religious fundamentalism, economic interdependence and global ecological problems is probably greater than it has ever been. But we are no longer a national audience receiving news from a handful of trusted gatekeepers; we’re now a million or more clusters of consumers, harvesting information from like-minded providers.

I love it when famous people agree with me 😉

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One Response to My way? Branding in a personalized world

  1. Tony S says:

    I have to agree with you on sites like Pandora, especially when it comes to music. You remove the serendipity and sense of discovery, and limit your tastes in a way which ultimately removes the whole point of the exercise – that appreciation of music, like any art form, involves discovery and a sense of ‘the new’ to make it worthwhile

    The ‘bigger picture’ comments of Ted Koppel are apt, but surely the onus is on people like him (and the publications he writes for) to rise to the challenge of the O’Reillys of the world. Unfortunately, ‘traditional’ media have by and large not figured out how to cope with the rise in new forms of communication (and the consequent rise of O’Reilly and his ilk) and they have to some degree missed the boat – The Post is particularly guilty in this respect. The danger is not so much that people like Koppel are not being listened to, but that he (like many others) thinks he has far more relevance that he actually has … and this is a very sad development

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