Branding (and all branding is online branding these days) is changing at a rapid pace. Gone are the days of message control, and the only way to still manage your brand is to not manage it.
Here’s the latest and very bold example: The masterfood brand Skittles launched something quite radical yesterday that many marketers had thought about but didn’t have the guts to actually do - the "Interweb." Yesterday Skittles' home page was reduced to a Skittles logo over-layed above a Twitter search for the word Skittles. Today it overlays their Facebook page.
This is the ultimate, strategic loss of brand control in the age of radical transparency, turning an alleged weakness into strength. Whether you like it or not, you can’t control what people say about you on the social web where "the ants have megaphones" (Chris Anderson). Hence, as Federated Media writes, “Skittles’ homepage IS the conversation.”
The "Interweb" campaign will definitely give Skittles some nice short-term buzz (and that itself is of huge value in the attention economy), but the provocative appeal of the brand’s new homepage will wear off quickly. Yet it is indicative of the continued rise of the Distributed Internet and the triumph of conversational over traditional web marketing. Who needs static web sites anyway if you can point to much more compelling dynamic content to educate and engage your audience?
Using Skittles as template, maybe tomorrow’s web presence of brands will have only four main elements:
- a twitter feed (short-form real-time content);
- a blog/magazine (long-form edited content, branded and from third parties);
- links to social network profiles (LinkedIn, Facebook etc.);
- and a powerful search function to access everything that’s being said about the brand on Google, Twitter, and elsewhere (press hits, events, other social media sites such as Slideshare etc).