I was inspired by one of Ashley’s comments in my last post. She said:
“But the criteria of what makes something ‘good’ (design, social, health, energy use) is still being defined and led by the specialist or ‘passion’ sector. Big brands are more in the position to enforce and execute.”
It got me thinking about the setting of “the agenda.”
It’s well known that a strategy of leaders - or those who would be leaders - is to set the agenda or “rules” for a category thereby forcing everyone else to follow and measure themselves against you. The increase in transparency that has been brought about by technology and social media as well as the rise of the participatory culture have created some new ways for companies to set the agenda. Ways that benefit both small companies and corporations, but differently.
For example the fact that public opinion and public demand are now such vital forces in shaping categories has greatly benefitted companies like Netflix who have used their customers’ desire for streaming to force a host of fairly radical agreements with many of the studios. This has enabled Netflix to set the agenda in the video rental business, it’s not about physical retail locations, nor physical media; it’s about immediate access to the widest variety of films possible.
Conversely the increase in transparency within corporations as a whole and the increase in the public desire to know more about the companies with whom they do business, has benefitted companies like Walmart who turned an employee sustainability and wellness program into a marketing vehicle and one of the first steps in, what has now become, a heralded commitment to sustainability. It allowed Walmart to claim that scale and impact are the defining criteria in being green, that it’s better to cast a wide, but light, green shadow than a small but deep green one.
I think this is interesting because it is another point that supports a growing hypothesis of mine that modern branding which has been pioneered by small companies is being adopted by big companies with a twist. What do you think? How else can companies set the agenda, am I missing something?
Adrian is founding partner of Zeus Jones a branding company believing actions speak louder than words and that modern brands are defined by what they do not what they say. He speaks (and writes) regularly about non-communications based models for marketing & branding. @adrianho