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LQD - 5 Lessons

by ATinNM Mon Feb 14th, 2011 at 01:53:20 PM EST

Short and powerful:

5 Lessons Brands Can Learn from Hosni Mubarak:


  1. Social media is fueled by real people with real concerns.  

  2. You cannot turn off the conversation.

  3. Social media isn't a technology.  

  4. Your target market doesn't live in a vacuum.  

  5. The pace of change has changed.

At the link there are brief expositions of these five points.



Display:
I suspect Hosni Mubarak will be as surprised as anyone to learn he had a target market.

Perhaps he could have held on longer if only he'd had better brand management.

Sorry, but I find this kind of horrifying pretty much by definition. "Brand" is a word that makes me break out in a cold sweat, because it's such a transparent attempt at Orwellian mind-control and mental conditioning wrapped up in happy-clappy evangelical suit-speak.

I don't want disintermediated non-technological social media (most people know this phenomenon as "friendship"), I don't want target markets, and I don't want brands. I don't want luvvie evangelicals saying silly things like "the pace of change has changed."

I do want people working together with generosity of spirit to solve problems and make the world more fun to live in - not because markets and brands tell them to, but because they're personally involved and they care about what happens to them and the people they know, and they'd like the future to be better than the past.

If there's a lesson from Egypt it's that given even half a choice, people will get involved, and they'll soon learn that once they do get involved, no amount of attempted management and control - short of outright street massacre - will silence them.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Feb 14th, 2011 at 02:13:43 PM EST
I don't attach a strong, negative, weight to the word "brand" so I deploy it in its abstract, conceptual, sense.

As such, Mubarak most certainly did have a "brand experience" and a large number of Egyptians didn't want to 'buy' it, anymore.  

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Mon Feb 14th, 2011 at 02:26:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ATinNM:
a large number of Egyptians didn't want to 'buy' it, anymore

They weren't "buying" anything, they were under the impression they had no choice but to suffer under corrupt authority.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Feb 14th, 2011 at 02:39:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In the US "buying" has an idiomatic use meaning "cognitive or psychological acceptance and/or resigned acquiescence."

 

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Mon Feb 14th, 2011 at 03:22:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I do because I regularly interview people who do brand management for a living, and they all seem to live in a distorted bizarro universe where management believes that changing the font on a logo is a magical act of immense sociological and commercial significance.

It's far more significant than anything else a company can do - such as (say) producing items and experiences of inherent value.

In other words It's totemic fetish magic for capitalists. And it includes the implication that the only kind of branding that matters is the type that permanently modifies every possible consumer's psyche and forces them into making certain associations, whether or not those associations are accurate, honest, truthful, or reality-based.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Feb 14th, 2011 at 02:40:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You have my deepest sympathy.  Been there, done that.

I'm willing to junk the phrase "Brand Management" because of what you present in your comment.  

I'm not willing to junk the idea behind "Brand Management" because it is useful for grouping closely related phenomena in a way that make it easier to analyze.  

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Mon Feb 14th, 2011 at 03:19:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We all draw conclusions from what people say, do, where they live, what they wear etc etc. That's your personality as seen by others, and these individual assessments are often quite similar in the people you meet.

If you go on in your own sweet way, not caring what people think of you, your personality is not a brand - to you, although it is to everyone else. Anything you do to change peoples' perceptions of you is in its own way branding. Corporations are no different.

As we say in the business: "if you don't manage the brand, the brand will manage you."

I accept your brand horrors. The Egyptian revolution was not built generosity of spirit, but by social networking. You can read how in A Tunisian-Egyptian Link That Shook Arab History

It is a story of upper and middle-class bloggers (the April 6 Youth Movement) who gathered the latest global information on how to run protests (paint spray cans for the security vehicle windows, onion and vinegar against the tear gas, street armour made from 1.5l plastic bottles worn under the shirt etc etc, and then planned the online campaign.

They did indeed create a brand that attracted not only thousands of people with computers at home, but 100s of thousands who had probably never touched a keyboard. That branding went into such detail as deciding by majority voting which colour shirt everybody should wear for the next street protest.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Feb 14th, 2011 at 02:55:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And they went to a lot of trouble to avoid being branded as islamacists or anti-western by NOT burning US flags or being threatening to Western Journalists.  If Mubarak has succeeded in branded them as terrorists or communists he might have won or at least lasted a little longer. Branding is as much about creating negative as positive associations - ask Karl Rove

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Feb 14th, 2011 at 03:13:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If you go on in your own sweet way, not caring what people think of you, your personality is not a brand - to you, although it is to everyone else. Anything you do to change peoples' perceptions of you is in its own way branding. Corporations are no different.

Corporations are different because the aim of a corporation - unlike a friend - is to turn you upside down and shake money out of your pocket.

Real relationships are based on mutual benefit and mutual influence. In corporate relationships, truly mutual benefits are the exception, not the rule. The terms and conditions are literally enforced from the top down, and there's no option to change them or negotiate them without collective pressure.

So corporate branding is an exercise in exploitation, covert manipulation, and persuasion, not in equal partnership or negotiation.

The West likes its mythology of top-down power, which is why the NYT has its story of a few good men, etc.

But the reality is that no amount of branding or management would have made the street protests possible if the grievances hadn't been strong enough for ordinary people to feel angry enough to risk their lives.

The colour of the t-shirts they wore while they did it is a superficial issue.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Feb 14th, 2011 at 05:45:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The colour of the t-shirts they wore while they did it is a superficial issue.

Not necessarily. Less superficially : the grievances were there, they were powerful, they could have broken out in different ways under different leadership.

The fact is, the organisers were among the most connected, cosmopolitan, modern, progressive elements in Egyptian society. If it had been the most obscurantist faction of the Moslem Bros doing the organizing, I'm guessing that most of the same ordinary decent people would have turned out to denounce Mubarak, to occupy the square, to face down the army, to fight back against the thugs.

But they would have been operating under a different brand.

And that's a huge difference. How deep is their identification with that brand? Pluralist, open, networked, progressive : we may fervently hope that it will stick. But perhaps it's only our perceptions, as foreigners, which are being manipulated? Maybe the crowd will go with the Bros now?

History teaches us that revolutions are generally co-opted by the bourgeoisie to pursue their own agenda. They benefit from the revolutionary brand, but in general they sell it out.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Feb 15th, 2011 at 06:26:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
One reason that it wasn't the obscurantist faction of the Moslem Brothers may be that they are in the government. According to Paul Amar at Jadaliyya
In the past ten years this political force of this particular wing of the Brothers has been partially coopted by Mubarak's government from two angles. First, Brothers were allowed to enter parliament as independent candidates and have been allowed to participate in the recent economic boom. The senior Brothers now own major cell phone companies and real estate developments, and have been absorbed into the NDP machine and upper-middle class establishment for years. Second, the government wholly appropriated the Brothers' moral discourse. For the last ten or fifteen years Mubarak's police-state has stirred moral panics and waved the banner of Islam, attacking single working women, homosexuals, devil-worshipping internet users, trash-recycling pig farmers, rent-control squatters, as well as Baha'i, Christian and Shi'i minorities. In its morality crusades, the Mubarak government burned books, harassed women, and excommunicated college professors.  Thus, we can say that Egypt has already experienced rule by an extremely narrow Islamist state - Mubarak's! Egyptians tried out that kind of regime. And they hated it.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Feb 15th, 2011 at 06:39:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:
The colour of the t-shirts they wore while they did it is a superficial issue.
Tell that to the Thai Red/Yellow shirt movements...

Keynesianism is intellectually hard, as evidenced by the inability of many trained economists to get it - Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 15th, 2011 at 06:56:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We're talking about Egypt here, not Thailand.

Unless I missed something, t-shirts weren't critical to the Egyptian revolution, even though - apparently - they were part of the official style guide.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Feb 15th, 2011 at 10:03:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Your oversimplification is not useful, though I understand where it is coming from politically. The process of 'perception management' comes in many shapes and sizes, including everything from individual hairstyle to the rewriting of history.

I agree that corporate branding, as a subset of perception management, is more 'considered' (often amateurishly), but it only becomes 'evil' when it resorts to confabulation.

The best way to deal with any evil is to expose its lies.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Feb 15th, 2011 at 07:03:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The oversimplification is on the part of the brand managers who believe - mistakenly - that they understand and control a process that has more depth, sophistication, complexity and unpredictability than they realise.

The problem is that the concept of branding itself is superficial soundbite psychology. It's simple, appealing, and plausible as narrative logic. But it's no more accurate and reliable as a predictor of behaviour than the platitudes of NCE - which puts it firmly into the category of capitalist pseudo-science, where every human interaction is reduced to a competitive market transaction, and other values are only acceptable if they improve the competitiveness of the transaction.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Feb 15th, 2011 at 10:15:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
TBG:
Sorry, but I find this kind of horrifying pretty much by definition. "Brand" is a word that makes me break out in a cold sweat, because it's such a transparent attempt at Orwellian mind-control and mental conditioning wrapped up in happy-clappy evangelical suit-speak.

That pretty much defined how I reacted to Vance Packard's The Hidden Persuaders when I first read it in the late '50s, with the difference that Packard was reporting on and exposing existing practices rather than employing those practices himself. Yet it is still valuable to see thinking, even if self-promoting, of a current practitioner. We just have to separate the message from the messenger.

I can only wish we had a lot more of the "tell all" insider exposé works around. But for them to be auto-biographical would be to make them self-indicting and were they exposing other high placed elites they might invite (possibly lethal) retaliation. Absent such works we have to settle for what we can get.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Feb 14th, 2011 at 04:23:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... target market, what surprised him was that it included individuals other than the leadership of his own and the US military establishment.

If he had realized that his country's population was part of his target market, he could have had his money all safely squirreled away outside the country and have made a clean getaway the day after the thugs failed to clear the square, instead of this hanging on while trying to find places to shift his money into.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Feb 14th, 2011 at 07:17:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
These are lessons for "Brands" and for brand managers. Real people do not need to learn them because they have lived through that experience.  The author is a digital media marketeer.  He is using the Mubarak experience to sell his own "brand". Brands are real things too - except that they are the property of commercial and political interests and cannot be considered outside of the context of the power and ownership relationships involved..

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Feb 14th, 2011 at 02:39:15 PM EST
Yes, what members of civil society need to learn about the most effective corporate opinion makers is how to counter their malign influence on political discourse.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Feb 14th, 2011 at 07:22:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]

`This Is Your Country'

Then, about a year ago, the growing Egyptian youth movement acquired a strategic ally, Wael Ghonim, a 31-year-old Google marketing executive.
...

Mr. Ghonim had little experience in politics but an intense dislike for the abusive Egyptian police, the mainstay of the government's power. He offered his business savvy to the cause. "I worked in marketing, and I knew that if you build a brand you can get people to trust the brand," he said.

The result was a Facebook group Mr. Ghonim set up: We Are All Khalid Said, after a young Egyptian who was beaten to death by police. Mr. Ghonim -- unknown to the public, but working closely with Mr. Maher of the April 6 Youth Movement and a contact from Mr. ElBaradei's group -- said that he used Mr. Said's killing to educate Egyptians about democracy movements.

He filled the site with video clips and newspaper articles about police violence. He repeatedly hammered home a simple message: "This is your country; a government official is your employee who gets his salary from your tax money, and you have your rights." He took special aim at the distortions of the official media, because when the people "distrust the media then you know you are not going to lose them," he said.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/14/world/middleeast/14egypt-tunisia-protests.html

Some influences, including an American academic - supported by Chomsky:

Mr. Maher and his colleagues began reading about nonviolent struggles. They were especially drawn to a Serbian youth movement called Otpor, which had helped topple the dictator Slobodan Milosevic by drawing on the ideas of an American political thinker, Gene Sharp. The hallmark of Mr. Sharp's work is well-tailored to Mr. Mubark's Egypt: He argues that nonviolence is a singularly effective way to undermine police states that might cite violent resistance to justify repression in the name of stability.

Waging Nonviolent Struggle: 20th Century Practice and 21st Century Potential by Gene Sharp

This groundbreaking new work builds on 50 years of Gene Sharp's academic research and practical experience aiding nonviolent struggles around the world.

It provides unprecedented information about how to strategically plan nonviolent action and make it more effective. Furthermore, it includes twenty-three case accounts of nonviolent struggle in the twentieth century.

http://www.aeinstein.org/organizationsc5ed.html

Cf.:

"For want of a better word the four "letters" that Chomsky has attached his name to since June 2008  ...  2) an open letter in support of Gene Sharp and the Albert Einstein Institution."

http://www.swans.com/library/art14/barker10.html

The April 6 Youth Movement modeled its logo -- a vaguely Soviet looking red and white clenched fist--after Otpor's, and some of its members traveled to Serbia to meet with Otpor activists.

Another influence, several said, was a group of Egyptian expatriates in their 30s who set up an organization in Qatar called the Academy of Change, which promotes ideas drawn in part on Mr. Sharp's work. One of the group's organizers, Hisham Morsy, was arrested during the Cairo protests and remained in detention.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/14/world/middleeast/14egypt-tunisia-protests.html

Then again:

Wael Ghonim has been appointed by the US media as the face of the Egyptian revolution. Younger than Mohamed ElBaradei, less scary than the Muslim Brotherhood, articulate in English, married to an American and an employee of Google, Mr Ghonim is the perfect figure to sell the romance of the revolution to a western audience. As the administrator of the Facebook page that first drew demonstrators to Tahrir Square, he was imprisoned for a spell, until emerging from captivity in time to articulate the frustrations of young Egyptians.

Yet some caution about the "Facebook Revolution" is in order. The commentary about the role of social media in Egypt has become so breathless that it is easy to forget that the French managed to storm the Bastille without the help of Twitter - and the Bolsheviks took the Winter Palace without pausing to post photos of each other on Facebook.

FT.com



Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.
by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Wed Feb 16th, 2011 at 11:41:33 AM EST
April 6 Youth Movement brand Logo:

Uses the clenched fist semiot which has a long history in protest and resistance movements.

Not Your Grandparent's Clenched Fist

The fist of protest has its roots in the deep traditions of revolutionary imagery of 1848 and French Romantic painting. It became a staple of banners and logos of unions and political parties. Raised out of the crowd, the fist clenched in strength, anger and determination could serve groups of almost any ideological stripe.

The brand logo of the Tahrir Square/Cairo protests was the 'V-for-Victory' sign:

and seems to have spontaneously emerged.  (?)  

Again, it has a long history of use going back to the 1960s

and its widespread use in World War II

Interestingly, it was consciously deployed:

It came from the creative people at the BBC who were doing everything they could (while working in conjunction with PM Churchill) to rally the people who were still in shocks of fear from the Blitz the Nazis had inundated London with during 1940. By the beginning of the year, a sense of unity and defiance had to be accomplished--and the media would be the one who would ultimately make it happen.

In this campaign, the BBC had the brilliant idea of taking the "V" sign (already known in France as meaning "Victory" and "Freedom" in The Netherlands) and giving a physical sign people could use for solidarity in winning the war without having to use words.

These two symbols were used, consciously and unconsciously, as semiotic representations carrying historically deep emotional and cognitive messages.  Display of these semiots allowed immediate, spontaneous, development of In-Group bonding through an act of individual expression: "I" became "We."  

It was this "We" that, I'd venture, became one of the factors creating the Emotional Space lying behind the remarkable social psychological qualities of Tahrir Square.  Letting one example suffice for all, women tweeters continually tweeted the 100% change they experienced during the protests; formerly sexual harassment in the square was commonplace, that evaporated during the protests.

To qualify this comment, I'm not saying these brand logos were anything more than a causal factor.  Judging how important they were must necessarily wait for the Egyptian revolution plays out.  

[I note this thing isn't over.]

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Wed Feb 16th, 2011 at 01:47:40 PM EST


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