The best youth brands in the world know that it’s essential to create a BRAND ECOSYSTEM…a living, breathing organism that is all about stimulating and feeding off conversations that happen within it, then using that to build further brand stories. As we know, the millions of micro-interactions which happen on the web (blogs,twitter, facebook , youtube, google etc) are conversations between people, and many of the conversations happening in social media are about your brand. So to break down the Brand Ecosystem – it’s an organic model, where the role of the brand is to listen to the conversations happening around it, energise those conversations with interesting content and experiences. It’s all about giving the ‘brand community’ something to talk about within their own personal social networks and ‘influencers’ in youth culture are then able to add velocity to your idea penetration …eg: make sure it hits the mainstream as quickly as possible. It’s a virtuous circle that keeps re-inventing itself, so brands need to be listening to whats happening in culture so they can quickly react and create conversation around topics, new experiences. If you stop contributing, you’re dead. Red Bull are kings of fuelling their ecosystem, by constantly fuelling their ‘energy ecosystem’ with new content, stories, the Red Bulletin, controversies, world records, rumours about their ambassadors etc. A key element of creating a Brand Ecosystem is to embrace the Participative Branding approach. Nike knows that PARTICIPATIVE branding is the future. Participative Branding is how a company engages and behaves with consumers across channels and over time to earn both their attention and their participation through experiences. It’s also about how consumers engage with each other. 2008’s best example of participative branding was Nike’s Bootcamp campaign to promote the European Cup..it was killer. The key with Participative Branding is to ensure the brand story builds across media, kind
of like a ‘play’, its not about slapping the same message everywhere. Faris Yakob, calls it “transmedia planning’….I believe the best youth brands invite people in to help them create an evolving brand story.
I imagine we’ll see more and more brands thinking about how Participative Branding can help stimulate their brand ecosystem.