Brand Standards? Be Tolerant Of Social Media

A word of warning. I’m posting this link in the spirit of acknowledging my sources and admitting that I have plagiarised content, rather than letting you, faithful blog snorkellers mine, believe that it’s all a product of my fevered imagination – however, for once, I strongly advise that you do NOT click on it. (Not that there was ever much chance, you lazy bunch of surfers, but just in case.) If you do click on it, you will find yourself transported to the homepage of Digital Transactions magazine, a wilderness in which your horrified screams will never, ever be heard.

Suffice it to say, it’s a publication that services the needs of the digital transactor, those involved in online payments – banks and so forth. And it is a sign of the malign growth of the social media cancer that even this benighted outpost on the media frontier has been tainted by it. Here’s a quotation:

“Banks and others scratching their heads over the exploding popularity of social networking and its close cousin, social gaming, can harness the online phenomenon for payments but will likely have to jettison decades of settled thinking, experts say.”

I know – sounds like the sort of thinking that was doing the rounds 18 months ago – but it was published yesterday. Welcome to today’s horrifying reality, banks and others!

Anyway, I didn’t come here to poke fun at the financial services industry, easy though that would be. No I come here to highlight an opinion provided in this piece which, for me, sums up the insanity and inanity of the whole social media thing and how it is supposed to work (to our benefit, apparently). Have a read:

“For example, people who use social media are accustomed to changing things on the sites in ways that suit them individually – and that can include corporate designs, said George Warfel at Fiserv Inc. He advised banks to be tolerant of this, even if it horrifies marketing officers. ‘Let people on MySpace change the color of your logo,’ he advised. ‘That’s not vandalism. It’s customer acceptance.”

What George is blithely advocating is ceding control of your brand identity to any Tim, Darko or Barry who wants to appropriate it for his or her own ends. Apparently customers will be more accepting of your expensive, hard-won identity if they are free to do what they like with it. Who knows, maybe they won’t just stop at changing the colour. Maybe they’ll include a couple of rude words and a lewd illustration and then post it on a Facebook page entitled “(your name here) Sucks!” Or maybe they’ll just change the colour of your logo, print it out and stick it on a counterfeit product.

This is, and remains, the problem with social media. From a commercial point of view, it cannot provide the reassurance and control that is necessary to make it a valid comms, marketing or sales tool.

And as for the bankers – well, I sincerely hope their attitude to looking after my money is slightly less laissez-faire than their attitude to their own brand identity.

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