Brands Now Thrive As Platforms Not Products

Patrick HanlonJune 15, 20203 min

It is no longer enough simply to have a product or service — that’s just game stakes — you have to have a YouTube (or other video) presence, pop-in store, TV show, video game, music downloads, memes, print content (book, zine, oversize, lookbook, catalog), a festival, Virtual Reality, an airplane — in addition to the website or APP, the outdoor, Influencers (if you have them), conferences, tshirts, posters, water bottles, CRM, social content and other effluvia. Or an Iconic advertising idea.

Look at Brands like Dr Dre, Gwyneth, IKEA, Amazon, Salesforce, et al.

Patagonia not only makes outdoor gear, they also fight polluters, have their own business book-set on how to become a socially conscious business. A line of food products. Patagonia Action Works, YouTube videos, lobbyists and more.

Google is no longer just a search engine. They have Maps, a movie (“The Internship”), lobbyists in D.C., Think With Google, books, brand architecture, personalities, and an entire Googleplex of thought experiments, consultants, analysts, stock prices and free food.

Watch brand Shinola just opened a hotel in Detroit.

Dessa, a rapper artist living in New York City, has music as her art, an incredible new book titled “My Own Devices,” a hit song on the “Alexander Hamilton” Broadway soundtrack, tours with Doomtree and her group of collaborators — in addition to her blogs, Facebook and Instagram posts, various personal appearances and more. And you probably still haven’t heard of her.

But now you have.

In this environment, traditional marketing categories like B2B, B2C, DTC, and others (B2C2C) all become blurry associations that no longer fit. Forget those halfway descriptors about bought, shared and earned media. We live in a whirlyworld of messages, bespoke and not. Everything (and everyone) is also something else.

Why position me here, when I want to hopskip over there?

This all adds up. The blindsiding body blows to your attention span can be time distorting, ethereal, even material.

As my wife shredded last night as she thumbed off Instagram, ”I feel like I’m living inside of an advertisement.”

Thing is (and thanks for reading this far) storytelling for Brands was once reserved only for the biggest Brands who could afford the time, effort and the millions of dollars necessary to tell stories via advertising. (Facebook and Google, by the way, are vying to equal that spend.)

Brand platforms make marketing sense because we all have to create pipelines. We live in a post-advertising world but the grounding point is that people still have to hear about you. In fact, the face smash is that they need to have seen or heard about you in 5 different places before they are even aware that you exist (17 places if you live in Singapore).

Plus, the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships published a report recently that claims it takes 100 hours to make a friend.

Combine those two stats and you understand the need for plenitude.

While you don’t need millions of dollars for advertising, you do need monies to produce all of the experiences that fill the pipeline. As a collaborator asserts, “It’s all about execution.”

And there’s still plenty of room for confusion. Your product is not your Brand, but neither is your platform.

Content and experiences are merely the attractants that draw people to cluster around you, like honey in the hive. They are the social engine for WOM.

Ultimately, your Brand isn’t a product or platform, your Brand is a person. A heart and brain standing alone, gazing out over the vast twinkling atmospherics that express all the omnichanneled ways that you understand how they want to feel — a warm, sensate being that perceives without thinking that you are perfect for them, created for them, there for them, exactly when they want to plunge into the warm, raw millions who act, feel, excite and wait just for them.

Contributed to Branding Strategy Insider by: Patrick Hanlon, Author of Primal Branding

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