by: Jonathan Salem Baskin

The branding community has launched a massive, collaborative project intended to utterly rewrite the principles and re-purpose the tools of brand marketing.

Download the announcement.

The announcement comes as the world's most valuable brand names suffer a veritable perfect storm of problems: consumers have gotten harder to find, more difficult to convince, nearly impossible to keep loyal and, most recently, they've become stingy.

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The attributes once marketed as benefits deserving a brand premium are now seen by many people to be a needless tax, as the Internet has revealed more information, and a greater number of choices.

"We can't hope to ignore reality with creative distractions," declared Dirk Gizzinta, spokesperson for the Brand Liaison Association of Marketers, or BLAH, which is co-sponsoring the initiative with Blandweek. "Even the smartest engagement doesn't pass muster when people are interested in buying what they need, not just what we tell them to want."

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It's time to face facts, and admit what pretty much everyone else suspected," said Kevin Sneeze, Blandweek's editor. "Social media might be wonderfully social, but most of us don't get paid for wasting people's time, however brilliantly. We need to step back and rethink our objectives."

Not surprisingly, some notable digital media experts disagree. "Brands are meant to be experienced online," said Phyllis Numbnut, director of Digital Revenue Instead of Profits, or DRIP. "No company can afford not to participate, but it's not our problem to explain why."

Most CMO's are relieved, according to informal polling about the announcement. "It's time to stop the madness, and figure out how to make branding relevant to business purposes, like sales," said one executive, who asked to remain anonymous. "I need brand equity that has actual value. I need another conversation with my customers like I need a hole in the head."

The Blandweek/BLAH "Manhattan Project" will bring together experts in marketing, technology, organizational development, human behavior, and other operational executives, and focus their collaboration on finding new, non-communications-dependent solutions to the challenge of attracting and keeping consumers.

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"We're going to write the future of branding, and it's going to belong to every functional area," explained Blandweek's Sneeze. "The days of using communications to supersede or obscure reality are over. Consumers want meaning, relevance, and utility from us, and this project is going to deliver it."

"It has never been about the media, digital or otherwise," added BLAH's Gizzinta. "The message matters, and it feels as if we're awakening from some long, troubled dream in which we confused the processes and mechanisms of communicating with content and purpose."

DRIP's Numbnut tweeted "Sounds like a social media campaign," but nobody was following her.

Oh, and one more thing...

Like this would ever happen? Happy April Fools' Day.

Original Post: http://dimbulb.typepad.com/my_weblog/2009/04/branding-manhattan-project-revealed.html

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