How to build a collaborative brand

 

On the 11th February, I gave a talk on how to build collaborative brands, as part of a new project that John Williamson, Geertje Setton, and I have put together. It’s called Brand the Gap, and it’s the first branding meetup in Spain. We have set very high standards for ourselves. We only want to deal with new or disruptive topics, and deliver high quality talks, both in their content and in their form. With these premises in mind, I began to do some research on the topic of my own talk. 

I was surprised to find that nothing has been previously written on this topic. There are various ‘unicorns’ —companies that turn over more than $10 billion— and some super-brands like airbnb or Uber, which have managed, in a very short amount of time, and with no inventory, to displace some century-old traditional companies. As is always the case in management, first, things are done, and then, we theorise on how to do them. 

The sharing economy sets up a new stage. Organised in communities, we discover (or rediscover) that we can obtain all we need from each other via technological platforms, in exchange, or not, for money. The digital communication age, the social networks, the different webpages and mobile applications can all help to connect users who interact to share services, trade, or sell products. 

This is how different brands have emerged that put into practice the principle of building in a participative and collective way in four different areas. The decision of opening content, data, courses, and codes that the rest of the world can edit, use, or reuse gave rise to open knowledge, with Wikipedia as the magnum opus; the collaborative production that may end industrial production as we know it; the collaborative consumption that is growing unstoppably in many areas; and the new unmediated finances in which people like you and me can invest in projects through crowdfunding, or lend each other money.

Out of all my research process, which included going trough innumerable posts and various books, in addition to all I’ve learnt by way of my own experience as a mentor and a collaborative branding consultant, and as consumer and ‘prosumer’ (producer) of this new reality, I’d like to synthesise the following points: 

1. The promises of the brands in this new collaborative economy are only possible thanks to a facilitating and ubiquitous technology we call SoLoMo (Social, Local and Mobile): social networks, geolocation services, data analysis and mobility. Their democratisation changed all the rules of the game.

2. The point of view: a more efficient and humane world. The platform empowers you to gain an extra income by valuing what you can do, and you build your own reputation day by day with the comments and assessment of the different users. 

3. A P2P community that is eliminating the boundaries between production and consumption, and has managed to make success available even to those who lack big inventories, corporate buildings, and a large staff. 

4. A brand platform that distributes and disintermediates. We no longer brand products or companies. We brand the very platform that distributes value and makes a world without intermediaries possible. 

5. The Lean Branding approach. Brands are released in beta, and manage a great deal of data that is constantly measured. These brands learn, adjust themselves, and pivot if necessary. 

6. The regeneration of trust amongst strangers. In a world where we have lost all our trust in institutions, the biggest success of the collaborative economy, from my point of view, is its ability to regenerate trust. We go back to trusting strangers, who are like us and share our tribe or community. 

7. An entire universe of new brands may appear. With a design tailored to the sharing of resources and sustainable goods, these brands’ services are more humane, longer lasting, and better quality. 

And lastly, the collaborative economy also opens up a space for a type of immaterial abundance that exemplifies what matters more in the end. More personal relations, more enriching experiences, more trips, more friendship, more generosity, more knowledge, more trust, more respect, more openness…

 

 

 

 

 

 

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