Having put down the blog for several months, it's time to get back on it. Over Xmas I had the space and time to think quite productively about the areas I'm most interested in exploring and developing.
An issue that keeps coming back to my mind is this: Branding as a discipline derived and evolved - like its wilder sister, advertising - from the early challenges of meaning and trust caused by the lack of both physical and cultural connections between manufacturer and consumer. Where folks used to buy flour loose from out of a barrel at the local store, Aunt Jemima's centrally-made, packaged and nationally distributed brand of pancake mix created a whole new requirement.
If we broadly accept this as a departure point, what happens today, when a) consumers' own communications are increasingly driven and sustained by the urge to self-expresssion ("never mind your story, let me tell you mine!") and b) consumer and citizen connectedness dramatically and conclusively shifts the locus of meaning and trust away from Big Media to peer networks?
Branding has to date been so much a push discipline, but it's the brands that have more recently accepted and built their communications strategies around Consumer Self-expression and Connectedness - obviously the Nikes and Apples come to mind - who seem to have become the touchstones and bellwethers of 21st century marketing nous.
So ... is branding still something we as marketers actually DO, or it is now, post-Internet, more done TO us?
I'll be writing about - and I hope developing a new body of thought around - this area of exploration, in the early part of 2010.