As I read this slender but remarkably thought-provoking volume, I was reminded of Henry Chesbrough's breakthrough insights about what he calls "the open business model" and the open mindset it requires. "A business model performs two important functions: it creates value and it captures a portion of that value. It creates value by defining a series of activities from raw materials through to the final consumer that will yield a new product or service with value being added throughout the various activities. The business model captures value by establishing a unique resource, asset, or position within that series of activities, where the firm enjoys a competitive advantage."
Having thus established a frame-of-reference, Chesbrough continues: "An open business model uses this new division of innovation labor - both in the creation of value and in the capture of a portion of that value. Open models create value by leveraging many more ideas, due to their inclusion of a variety of external concepts. Open models can also enable greater value capture, by using a key asset, resource, or position not only in the company's own business model but also in other companies businesses."
This is precisely what Kelly Mooney and Nita Collins have in mind when explain when charting the same trajectory of consumer empowerment discussed in Mooney's first book, The Ten Demandments: Rules to Live By in the Age of the Demanding Consumer. The Open Brand "examines what few could have predicted: The extent of consumers' overwhelming motivation for and adeptness at being heard, making a mark, controlling their experiences, sharing products, and sharing opinions....Marketers have to rethink their approach in the face of the mounting power and reach of consumers - both as individuals and communities...The next step is to stage and support experiences that pull customers into brand participation in a way that's relevant to their lives."
As the title of their book indicates, Mooney and Collins insist that a brand must be O.P.E.N.: On-demand, Personal, Engaging, and Networked. That is, whatever today's consumers are seeking, they want it - and often get it - "right now." Also, it is imperative to bring the given brand as close as possible to each consumer's real-time needs, wants, and expectations. Moreover, brand marketers must development content that is "immersive, participatory and relevant in order to earn a place in the social web and consumer conversations" because open brands must provide "meaningful and engrossing experiences that foster consumer relationships online - and off." Finally, open brands must "become part of social networks by marketing to the niche of communal consumers who interact with other like-minded consumers online." These are not merely desirables. They are imperatives. Mooney and Collins explain why...and they also explain how to think through the process by which to associate these attributes with any brand, be it a product, service, or person.
In essence, marketing's primary function is to create or increase demand. Without differentiation, all brands seem the same. Even when differentiation has been determined, however, it must be recognized as such by the target consumer. And even then, the challenge remains to position the differentiated brand so that it appeals to the target consumer in terms of its immediate availability, its relevance, its ability to provide "meaningful and engrossing experiences that foster consumer relationships online - and off," and offer the promise of being able to support and enrich interactive social networks.
Mooney and Collins identify and briefly discuss eleven companies ("alpha openers" and "enablers" such as Amazon, Blogspot, Flickr, Google, and Wikipedia) "that have innovated or leveraged internet and telecommunications technologies to benefit consumers in new and significant ways." They briefly discuss a number of personal brands, "icitizens," to indicate "just how widely brands must cast their nets to catch up with these trendsetters, truth tellers and tastemakers." Of special interest is what they have to say about what they identify as "The Open Brand Metric System." (They provide a chart on Page 163 that consolidates all of the key points. This will facilitate, indeed expedite frequent review of those points later.) The details of this system are best revealed within Mooney and Collins' narrative, in context. However, I can say now is that the information goes a long way toward answering the question "How formulate business objectives, foundation metrics, and emerging metrics for each of the four components of the O.P.E.N. system.
In the final chapter, they provide a distillation of some of the key themes for their reader to consider when "opening" her or his brand. I recommend that the material in this chapter be read and re-read with great care, then frequently reviewed later as well as the chart on Page 63. Credit Mooney and Collins with providing a wealth of information as well as their own suggestions to those who are struggling to market a brand in a global marketplace in which there are more opportunities than ever before to connect, to create interaction, and most importantly, to respond effectively to the needs and interests of consumers who have more power and less patience then ever before.
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Those who share my high regard for this book are urged to check out Chesbrough's Open Innovation: Open Innovation: The New Imperative for Creating And Profiting from Technology and the more recent Open Business Models: How to Thrive in the New Innovation Landscape as well as two books by Marty Neumeier, The Brand Gap (Expanded Edition) and the more recent Zag: The Number One Strategy of High-Performance Brands.