Users are evolving their content habits at incredible speed. Marketers and branders face multiple challenges around audience extension and brand integrity in the race to keep up; they are issues that are affecting companies and organisations of all sizes and ability.


But first…

Australia. The year was 1997. I was busy convincing potential clients – who were often heralded as entrepreneurial types – to build their first website.

“Why on earth do I need one of those?” they would say while performing involuntary hand weights with an overstuffed Filofax.

Why on earth? I heard it so often that when one of these entrepreneurial types occasionally bucked the trend and agreed to do it I had to suppress questioning their terrestrial citizenship.

No university textbook prepared anyone for the Internet. Or for the websites it would bring, or for the client anguish caused by 404 screens. The Internet was a Big Kahuna of change.


But even more first…

I failed with something called DOS. MS-DOS. I remember (as I am effectively divorced from how a computer actually works and only compute the way Google and Apple want me to) typing /dir to see a list of folders and wondering if an AUTOEXEC.BAT lived in a TREE file. I remember calling my first hard drive ‘GUANO’.


But even more first than that…

I plugged a Commodore 64 into my grandfather’s 100lb CRT television via a coax socket. I sat with an open manual, peck typing BASIC commands onto a boxy two tone blue screen. I remember the immense joy of typing in the following lines of incredibly complex code.

10 PRINT “Poo.”

20 GOTO 10


There is change, but not everything changes – as readers of my blogs for eBrands will testify.


Other Random Access Memory Lane highlights

PowerPoint and laser pointer pitching classified advertising online as the way of the future while CEO’s of some of the largest recruitment businesses in Australia guffawed about the Internet. “Newspaper classified advertising will never be replaced,” they said.

Junketing on the fumes of Internet media company start-ups. Cruising Sydney harbour while being massaged and straw fed booze before hitting a casino with some free money …to then see the NASDAQ fall off a cliff barely a month later.

Eyebrow-raising at business models being sold on the equivalent of gasoline fumes for billions of dollars. Sold before having a clear view on how to make money but with vague valuations attached to service value and user base monetization. Oh, that is still happening.


What is the point of all this reminiscing?

Change. We’ve changed how we view and consume change. We’ve whipsawed between suspicion of the future to fanatically over-consuming change, to hopefully developing better senses for evaluating it.

Marketing, branding, advertising; all of these disciplines have experienced digital maturation periods. Our jostle for competitive advantage has moved innovation from the evil expense to a necessary buzzword.


The future challenge. Enhancing brand integrity.

When viral marketing was still viral, it was accepted that brands could live tactical marketing that adopted the “rollout method”. The approach, pioneered by Yahoo, still influences schools of technical development today (such as the “Agile” crowd). The premise is simply innovating, delivering, and fixing issues on the fly. This means forgoing thorough initial testing of digital product/content for the sake of speed to market.

My issue is that successful brands have never been able to do this. Why? It breaks the law. Brands are about trust; they are about revealing a promise and providing the proof. They are not about a vague whiff of hope.

“Chip away at that hope, and it’s ok because we’re cool, and you’re cool and ok that’s cool, and, by the way, your private information is on the Internet but that’s ok because we’re all cool…yeah?”

It often happens, and I’ve not purchased from a particular airline or renewed membership with a particular credit card company, or purchased from individual online stores because of it.


Let’s take…’web site’ or ‘App’ as an example

Briefly, because this blog has too many words in it already.

The App Store is not just a place for new app executions, it is also a graveyard for ten’s of thousands of ideas. Have a search yourself.

Organisations are writing “App or Web Site… or both?“ on whiteboards while not giving their brand enough weight or consideration in the process. Users meanwhile continue to assess these efforts within their own personal context:

  • Do I need another app?
  • Do I have time to learn about an app?
  • Will I remember that I have it?
  • Does my device have the memory for it?
  • Should I just use the website?
  • Is it cool? (ok that’s just me).


This ongoing blog series will publish every few weeks to comment on the challenges of making your brand effective as technical frontiers expand. Speak to Mark MacWhite at eBrands to find out if our digital brand services are right for you.



Why was the first movie ‘Tron’ better than the second movie ‘Tron’?

First Tron was about the impossible. Second Tron was also about the impossible – except that 30 years on, the impossible is not as impossible anymore.

Comments? Thoughts?