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Open Brands; Living in a State of Constant Change





Today's businesses have two ways to compete in the digital economy with an open or a closed brand system.
Open brand systems are integrated, fast, and participatory. Closed systems are fragmented, slow, and controlled.
The more brands adopt an open model in their services, people, and communications, the more resilient they become in the digital economy. A closed system cannot keep up with today's speed of change, which is claiming business everywhere.
The problem is that most brands are still operating in a hybrid and closed system. They control the message, they are structured in departments, and their offering isn't flexible enough to meet new customer expectations.
To move to an open system, we need to embrace constant change. We need to create story engines that are always evolving, breaking with department structures, and ending the ownership of our services.
Open communication: Creating story engines
Open communication is participatory and self-regulated. Brand plays a hosted role by providing users a platform to connect and express themselves. The audience generates most of the content through participation in reviews, likes, and comments. Think Amazon, Google, LinkedIn, Facebook, or Netflix.
We can apply the same thinking to open advertising campaigns: The message is open for consumers to take ideas anywhere, which creates a snowball effect; people interact and build on other people's stories.
A good example of open advertising is the Madden GIFERATOR, a real-time NFL GIF engine that generates a live stream of animated GIFs triggered by the action on TV. GIFERATOR became part of mass culture following massive adoption by fans, brands, NFL teams, and players.
A closed communication system, in contrast, is controlled and descriptive. The brand defines the what, when, where, and how. Think about a Dunking Donuts ad that only talks about the taste of their morning joe. This approach leaves little room for interpretation and participation as the brand control the story and the experience.
Open people: Breaking with department structures
Open people means breaking with department structures and putting back the focus on customers. Departments have always been a double-edged sword for businesses: While they provide mental accounting, they can create an incentive for people not to collaborate. The motivation is to protect and grow their department. This model provides a myopic view of the customer and adds complexity.
In today's connected environment, we need to group people around clients to solve problems in a more effective and efficient way. For instance, advertising agencies, which have traditionally grouped people around departments (e.g., account, creative, and planners), have now started to shift to squads, which are organized around clients. A squad team allows them to be more nimble as everyone is on the same page and has the same interests at heart.
Open services: Ending ownership
Open services are used for the ‘service' rather than for ‘owning' (or licensing) the application itself. You only pay for what you want when and where you need. Think Amazon cloud computing or Spotify, to a certain extent, where for a monthly fee, you can access all the songs you want. You are no longer required to pay per music download. You can apply the same case to Airbnb or Uber. People don't want to own. They want the flexibility to get what they want when and where they need it.
Software companies, for the most part, have moved to an open service model. However, most of the traditional industries are still catching up. No wonder players such as Amazon are disrupting every single industry from grocery stores to music with their prime membership. Amazon is the new Wall-Mart for the digital age.
In summary, in an environment that is constantly changing, we need an open model to evolve with the environment. To quote Lao Tzu, "Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don't resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like."

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