Daily Archives: December 22, 2013

Entering The Participation Age

The New Definition of Brand Value

The tectonic plates that underpin our marketplace are in the midst of a large shift…and brands should be paying attention.

As the Millennial Generation quickly becomes the primary force in consumer spending, our marketplace is shifting from a transaction based economy to a participation based economy.

The primary thought-currency no longer has a commoditized value, but instead, a perceived value. Customers base decisions on an entirely different set of criteria: they don’t just want to buy your brand, they want to be a part of it.

The Transaction Model

In the transaction model, brand value was defined in transactional terms. The formula looks something like this:

The Transactional Brand Value Model

This model told us that the functional benefits of our product or service were of primary concern to the end user. In short, utility was king.

This type of thinking spawned a primarily interruptive style of brand development. After all, when consumers are faced with a direct apples to apples (A to A) choice, the squeakiest, loudest, most present and most disruptive voice wins. Brands were rushing to interrupt potential customers to prove the utility and benefit of their offering. All of this utility proofing geared toward one objective — the transaction.

Avon, Tupperware showings and the launch of the great infomercial were all spawned from this type of transactional thinking.

Brand value, as a result, was defined by converting interruption into transaction. Great branding created transaction.

As the economic landscape shifts, the transaction model is becoming obsolete.

The Participation Model

As Seth Godin put it, “Relying too much on proof distracts you from the real mission–which is emotional connection…Selling to people who actually want to hear from you is more effective than interrupting strangers who don’t.

In the participation model, brand value is defined in relational terms. The Participation model looks like this:

The Participative Brand Value Model

This type of thinking tells us that functional benefits and emotional benefits are amplified by our willingness to include our customer in the experience. Participation represents an invitation. An invitation for co-creation, co-responsibility and co-delight. Participation gears toward one objective —the experience.

The direct apple to apple (A to A) comparison becomes an experiential comparison: apple experience to apple experience (AE to AE). It looks beyond interruption and way beyond transaction.

In the participation model, great branding invites participation.

Jeff Fromm summed it up well by saying, “Millennials want to co-create the products and services you sell, the customer journey and the marketing and social media.”

A Case Study For Participation: Apple

(Yes, I know it’s trite to use Apple as a case study, but in this instance, this really is the best example.) Just this year Apple unseated Coca-Cola’s 13 year run as the world’s most valuable brand in Interbrand’s coveted annual “World’s Most Valuable Brands” list.

This can’t solely be attributed to truly disruptive tech releases. In fact, from 2007-2008 (the release of the iPhone), Apple’s brand value ranking only jumped 9 slots (from 33rd to 24th). So what took Apple’s brand value from $13,583m to $98,316m in 5 years? A potent combination of the rise of the participation economy and the fact that Apple’s core promise is participation.

Think about it, their entire model is centered around the invitation of participation. Participation from independent third parties (apps, hacks, media); participation from partner industries (music publishing, cellular carriers, media producers); and, most of all, participation from their customers.

Apple exemplifies the participation model by placing participation at the nexus of everything it does.

Beyond The Transaction

How are you moving beyond transaction? How are you being participation minded? How does your brand’s relationship with your customers deepen and grow before and after you make a sale.

If your brand development is built on the back of pop-ups, search spam, paid app reviews and video ads, it may be time to start thinking about the participation model.

Here are some quick thoughts on how to dive into participation:

  • Try co-creating or crowdsourcing a social campaign by engaging your followers. Show your followers some social love!
  • Try experimenting with your sales funnel. What are you doing intentionally to invite participation post-sale?
  • Get out of your hub and go to where people are using your product. Engage them, in their environment, about what they like, what they hate and what they wish for.
  • Choose 5 random customers to give a new product away to.
  • Don’t have a new product?…Let 5 customers choose who they want to give your existing product to.
  • Call 10 customers and hear their story. Who they are, where they come from, what they do. Don’t talk about you, talk about them.
  • Upgrade some customers for free. Provide the premium service they might need free of cost.
  • Host a virtual party where you invite people “behind the scenes” of your organization to meet the people who made the product.
  • …The options are limitless.Get out there and be intentional about participation.

Jeremiah Gardner is the author of the upcoming book The Lean Brand . He works with entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs to discover, iterate and develop their emotional-value. His company is Jeremiah Gardner | Handcrafted Brands. Send a shout-out on Twitter.

Written by

Born in the City of Sin and raised in the City of Angels, I help translate complex ideas and products to real people. #Author, #Speaker and #Brand Craftsman.


Branding > Marketing + Advertising + Everything Else.

Brand management can be a difficult thing to sell as a service. Many businesses are unaware of the importance of a proper brand. This article explains what brand management can do using an example of a man interested in buying a computer.

Joe is interested in buying a new computer for himself this weekend. Confused on whether to buy a PC or an Apple, Joe decides to go to two stores, Radio Shack and Apple.

Starting with Radio Shack, Joe drives down to the local strip mall where he finds Radio Shack. Joe walks in and is greeted with every electronic object known to man. The store seems cluttered but contains many products. He walks up to the counter and asks the employee if he could be shown some computers. The employee walks him over to where there are 3 computers on a shelf. Joe is confused why one of the three computers is not on. The employee notifies Joe that the charger was misplaced. Joe asks the employee if he could help him pick the best computer for his needs. The employee asks Joe questions about RAM, Hard-Drive capacity, video card needs etc.. Joe feels as if the employee is speaking in a foreign language. Joe decides to look at the stat sheets next to the computers for some help. Unfortunately the note cards were missing. Next, Joe asks the employee about being able to transfer over information from his current computer to the one he is interested in buying. The employee notifies Joe that he can’t help him with that at the store but he can call a number where someone can try and help him. Frustrated, Joe decides to leave and continue his look for a computer elsewhere.

Now Joe decides to visit his local Apple store to see if he can try and find an Apple computer that best fits his needs. Joe drives downtown and easily finds the all glass storefront of the Apple store. Joe walks in to an organized and clean store and is immediately greeted by a man wearing a blue shirt. The man says “Hello, how can I help you today?” Joe explains that he is looking for a computer that best fits his needs. The employee walks Joe over to where he can look at, feel and play with every computer they have to offer. Joe explains that he does not know exactly what he needs. The employee asks Joe questions about how he would use the computer, attempting to determine his needs through those questions. Joe finishes telling him his needs and the employee shows him exactly what he should get. Joe also looks over the stats of the computer that are beautifully presented on an iPad next to it. Finally Joe explains how he would need help taking everything off his old computer and putting it on the new one. The employee explains that would be no problem and that the “Geniuses” at the “Genius Bar” would be able to walk him through the whole process. Joe is pleased with his experience and leaves the store certain he will visit again to purchase a computer.

What seems like two totally different companies, is actually the difference between two brands. Apple takes pride in its brand and it shows through the customer experience. Many examples throughout the comparative stories prove that.

Joe drives to the respected stores:
Joe drives to the local strip mall — Joe drives downtown, to find a beautiful glass storefront

Joe walks into the respected stores:
It is cluttered and Joe must find the employee — The store is clean and Joe is greeted immediately

Joe asks about the computer he needs:
The employee asks questions about things Joe does not understand — Joe is asked about how he will use the computer and the exact computer is determined for him.

Joe looks at the stats of the computer:
The note card is missing — The stats are presented on an iPad

Joe asks about transferring old data to the new computer:
Joe can call a phone number — Joe can be walked through it in store by a “Genius”

All of these aspects are nothing more than branding. Branding is the total customer experience; from the storefront, the store environment, the way an employee greets you, the questions they ask, the way their product is displayed, the knowledge they contain, the help they can give you and even what you decide to call your employees. There is a huge misconception that branding is simply stationery, business cards and a website. This is a huge misconception. Branding is about creating a experience that your customers will not only enjoy, but remember and want to return.

Josh Dichele
Dichele Group | Brand Management

Dichele Group
Brand Management

Written by

Creating better brands for great companies. A solid brand = The confidence needed in a competitive market. Brand Management

Published December 21, 2013


Why I broke up with Facebook


I began flirting with Facebook almost 8 years ago, concurrently dating Myspace and not convinced either was a worthy long-term partner. Without acknowledging it, and despite it being entirely consensual (with tickboxes reminiscent of “do you like me, yes, no, maybe?”), it was Facebook that became my integrated life-partner; It didn’t just live in my browser, I carried it in my pocket, it buzzed its way into my consciousness during dinners, meetings, and discussions. I was being tagged and photographed, mentioned and liked. My calendar now resided as part of invitations that were only on Facebook. I went from having 40 photos to having 1,400 photos whose souls had been sold to the internet. My 400 ‘friends’ watched my life unfold, ‘hilarious update’ after ‘hilarious update’. Facebook saw first dates, last dates, birthdays, love, happiness, achievements, travel milestones (but I was a fair weather friend never owning my own tears and frustrations).

Image representing Spotify as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

And then there was the day that my status update changed proudly once I had met someone that I believed to be so very different. For a year and a half Facebook kept track as we traversed three continents, 16 countries, countless cities. We shared photos, events, comment strands, spotify messages to start and end our days with music. So when I suddenly got a notification that I should update my relationship status (it seemed the other half had unceremoniously decided to exit Facebook and our relationship without any prior warning), I had no other idea how to extract myself from something that was invariably going to cause me increased pain except to also end my relationship with Facebook. Hurried conversations with a best friend on the other side of the world, passwords exchanged, and she officially broke up with Facebook for me, suspending my account. I no longer had to experience that sinking feeling every time I opened my browser, turned my phone on to see a little red circle with a number that could contain some vestige of our once-shared-life.

What came next convinced me that I had been in two unhealthy relationships. And the one with Facebook was actually the more shocking to me.

The first night without Facebook was the hardest. Heartbroken, sleep not coming to me, I automatically reached for my phone to distract myself with someone else’s life, pictures of someone else’s thoughts or random links that I could lose myself in. I caught myself turning to Facebook on at least an hourly basis and, because I had deleted the application, was then left just holding my phone with nothing much else to do. Without realizing it, I had become addicted to my Facebook relationship. During the days that followed, I would catch myself making up witty, astute one-liners to accompany just about every event as it happened (which, obviously, my ‘friends’ all simply needed to know about), subtly rewriting the event to get the maximum like-factor out of it: thinking of how many comments and thumbs-up this action, this experience, this image would get, what spin I could put on it, how much stretching the truth to get a laugh was really stretching the truth and actually, incrementally changing my own memories. Without my realizing it, I had invited Facebook into every single moment of my life as it was happening, not just those moments that I subsequently chose to write updates about. I had allowed a new lens to be placed over the way that I viewed my own days and all my experiences. I discarded certain moments, preferred others and acted on behalf of an audience that may or may not validate them.

Perhaps the most startling revelation came to me as I looked back through the photo albums I had created and realised that I had become too dependent on the affirmation I was receiving from my Facebook relationship: I had started sacrificing the moments I was in to the thoughts of how others may perceive those moments later. I realised that I had been more intent on portraying my life optimally than actually fully experiencing the individual moments. I had been more worried about what others might think of that photo (was his arm tight enough around me? Did we look happy enough? In love enough?), than worried about how that moment was being experienced by both of us.


facebook (Photo credit: sitmonkeysupreme)

For 6 weeks, Facebook and I saw other people and had absolutely no contact with each other…

…and a strange thing happened.

Facebook had always allowed me to be connected to all my friends 24/7; I had duly noted every major life event, plea, request and snide remark. I knew what was going on in everyone’s lives! Suddenly, though, I had to revert to emails, phone calls and meeting people in person. I was ‘forced’ to ask questions, listen to stories, and see fleeting reactions and emotions cross my friends’ faces as they talked to me in person. For 6 weeks, I made a deal with myself to see a different friend every day. And I realized that, although I had been able to see so many snippets of interactions via Facebook, I had started accepting that as their lives and stopped being able to truly see my friends as their entire three dimensional selves. I had believed myself a part enough of their life just by passively acknowledging their newsfeed. In those 6 weeks, I re-learned what it meant to actually be friends with so many people, to actually participate in their lives and thoughts and events. I became a better friend again, I saw more of my city again, I realized that the ‘convenience’ of instantaneous passive participation in friendships is not worth the sacrifice of my relationships. I had the chance to lose the need for external validation of my personal moments, and my interactions became entirely my own again.

It’s true, Facebook and I started talking again (mostly because I was missing events, minimally because of the few worried people who thought I had died and no one had told them- sorry!). A life without Facebook also wasn’t without difficulties considering how many other services are tied up with that one single login (thanks for no assistance here Spotify and thanks for making things easy Air Bnb). My relationship with Facebook, however, definitely remains broken — and I am so grateful for that. In cafés, trains, walking down the street, I see people flicking through images of other people’s lives, uploading the latest picture of their latté or lunch rather than looking up and seeing what is going on around them. I am discovering small moments that I had forgotten how to experience and existing entirely within those moments. I am re-experiencing how fulfilling my friendships can be when I am not just passively involved. And I am so much the happier for it.

So, Facebook, it’s not you, it’s me, we simply want different things from life. Let’s just be friends.

Written by

writer; life-explorer; serial laugher

Published December 21, 2013