Don Tapscott talks extensively on how the ‘net generation’ expect things to be tangible and fast, they expect return immediate and real results from their actions. This is true for the jobs in which they work, the hobbies they pursue and the way they choose to interact with government, why should brands be different?
The principle of being ‘fast and tangible’ contrasts with the traditional branding approach, which aims to drive preference by constructing intangible values over a long period of time. I believe brands should provide activity that the consumer can ‘do’ something with, the more immediate and the more social the better. A hypothetical example of how this might work is below (this example also highlights how one might use social graphs/profiles to target communications but that’s making a slightly different point, if you’re interest, more here):
The idea is that every consumer action should produce a tangible result that in turn prompts another action. I suppose the results is an ‘idea chain’, with each link providing the consumer with something tangible and ideally of social value. I don’t think that this is only an online thing, Russell Davies wrote a really interesting post about producing tangible representations of online behaviour, which I loved.
This approach makes it look like I’m suggesting a very linear journey (or ‘consumer funnel’) from communications to purchase, but I don’t think that’s right. Idea chains should be designed to allow multiple consumer journeys that are experimented with and optimised along the way (I like Ted’s attack submarine analogy for this). If you were going to draw this out, it might look like this:
Each arrow represents a different activity that prompts some kind of consumer behaviour, the following activity is then defined by that behaviour until the desired results is achieved.
That’s that for now. If you’re interested, this is part of a broader essay that can be downloaded here.