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Tim Kitchin


re Burberyy.

I think open source marketing sounds wonderful in principle. But it demands new disciplines that very few organisations are yet equipped to deal with. By all means let people play with applications. But don't let them touch the code, unless you really trust them...

To drive this point home, I'd point to, www.blackspotsneaker.org - arguably the world's first open source brand to be designed that way, from the bottom up.

Backspot-buyers become shareholders in a mutual enterprise. They are encouraged to customise their trainers. And they get a vote in the design process of future ranges - and even future brand extensions.

But this only works for organisations that start with this ethos.

Just bolting on a chaordic marketing process is not going to build shareholder value.

Burberry is a great case isn't it. You could have chosen Lacoste and Christian Dior in the 1980s, Louis Vuitton and Yves San Laurent in the 1990s, maybe.

Few brands (Hermes, Brioni, Armani, Creed spring to mind) stay aloof from this 'social creep' - Armani's case, thinking ahead and giving people an on-ramp to the brand which leaves the couture and diffusion ranges intact.

This democratisation of brands is intensified in a celebrity culture, where we share the same cult heroes, regardless of social 'class'. We all love Jude Law and Nicole Kidman don't we?

I don't think this is about counterfieting though. Many Burberry wearers are wearing the real thing. Also TAG HEUER and ROLEX and Ray Ban have suffered pervasive counterfeiting over the years and kept the brand intact.
You just have to hold your nerve. (Plus it helps if the copies are c**p.)

Nope, this is about basic branding principles.

Rule #1 (the first and last rule of modern marketing?)
You do not control your brand - your stakeholders do. Specifically, your customers, in this case.

Burberry's customers have stolen its brand. Good for them. Get used to it. It was their's in the first place.

I always return to the analogy of branding as hosting a party, or running a French Salon. Burberry's job is to decorate the room, draft the invitations, select a few intriguing guests, connect people into interesting conversations, and keep those glasses topped up.

But they cannot actually conduct a hundred conversations. They cannot govern what people will talke about of what they will discover.

see: http://stealthisbrand.blogspot.com/2003/09/good-brand-is-living-brand.html

But like all good parties, there will be gatecrashers.

Your brand is already open source. Open sourcing your marketing is like lacing people's drinks - at random. If you go for it, you'd better expect casualties.

On the other hand, you might just get laid.

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