The Network is the Brand

  This is a reprint from my old blog with the original timestamp.  

I’ve heard a lot of people talking about word of mouth marketing or generating buzz or getting the blogosphere on board recently. This is all well and good, but the problem is you can’t tell people what to think and you can’t force people to believe something is good. But if you convince a group of people that your product is great and they become fans – they will spread awareness. (And btw, convince doesn’t necessarily mean clever marketing, it probably means the product is really good and people like it.)

Traditional marketing is about convincing people to buy or use your product or service and, ideally, convincing them to pay a premium. This has to do with trust, visibility, awareness, etc. But I’m not here to teach a marketing class. The point is companies spend a ton of money so that you’ve heard of their product and that, hopefully, you believe you need it and that it is better. Therefore will buy it. People routinely pay more for Duracell or Kodak than the generic brands – even though often times the branded and store brand products are the same. This works when people walk into stores and make decisions on purchases. It doesn’t quite work the same on the web.

On the web, or at least the Web 2.0, people are connected with others. More and more that network influences their decisions. On LinkedIn people use their network to find jobs, check references, generate leads, and more. On Amazon you might find new books through lists or make purchase decisions based on comments or ratings. These types of things are changing the way people buy and, therefore, the impact of brands.

This will change marketing in a dramatic way. The networks of people that buy or use a product will heavily influence the success or failure of the product or service. Even getting the initial network will imapct the success or failure of new products. Not having a network of fans will hurt you, badly. This won’t happen in the real (physical) world in a meaningful way in the near future, but it will happen. As opinions are become readily available on mobile phones and tvs the networks will start to invade the physical world. But right now we can see them impacting the way people buy, discover, and use, things on the web.

In the future The Network will be the Brand.

So, what do you think ?