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March 02, 2009


Tim B

During Herd's recent experiment, I found it easy to avoid the word brand - I just replaced it with the word 'company', or 'business', or 'organisation'. It's amazing how it shifts your emphasis away from marketing and onto something more..well, more MORE. What does our brand exist to do? What should our brand's values be? How should our brand feel? What impact would that have on the brand?

The brand may or may not create community, but the company that makes the product is part of the community. Every decision they make about the product, how they make it, how they relate to each other others with a stake in what they do. We're just getting smarter and smarter about that bit and it's having a bigger influence on how we see the cow, no matter what color it's painted.

Joseph Rueter

I've been kicking this around for a couple days. It's interesting. Here are a couple threads of thought. I am not sure how to weave them together yet.

Thread one: Without the product, the cow in this case, the ranch has no obvious expression of itself. Does it? Yet, that doesn't mean it doesn't have a place in the community of other ranchers for instance. The rancher is still part of the community. Going to coffee in town comes to mind. The brand of the ranch need not be the cow nor the mark on the cow. Seems it matters what kind of person the rancher is. But that is also hard to sell and make a profit.

Thread two: Being a Rancher is about more than cows. It's about living among the other ranchers. It's about sharing work load with those around you. It's about living together for the betterment of the whole. Companies... they compete to take market share... that's incongruous with the typical rancher positioning to my understanding. How can competition fit in and embrace community? That seems a core of this discussion.

Thread three: I wonder if we've really got all that good at working on the cows. Seems we're better at working on how the cows look. This is what we've called the brand. If it looks like x then its a short cut to trust. If we were good at working on cows we'd have amazing innovative products coming from our companies. Rather, we have for the majority the cheap, easy to make, unremarkable products coming from companies all over. Those are then merchandized and advertised and media and creative is purchased for them to make them look better than they really are.

Thread four: Most companies aren't distinct and special. Most Distinct and special things about a ranch are about the history and story of the land and the rancher and the rancher's family. The decisions the rancher makes about how they go about ranching, how they express their values, what they choose to do with the cows and how that effects the product are all on their minds. Companies are for the most part just there to make the thing so they can make cash. Unlike the ranchers... companies don't have a personal stake in most matters. The social structure of companies does not reward upright company dealings like the small rancher community does. The social structure for companies will purchase their stuff if it's cheap and crappy. So, why care? Further, it's a "market" category.

Thread five: It seems that another core issue here is what success is measured by. Companies success is largely and primarily measured by the difference between what it costs to run the company and how much the company brings in. Yet there are outliers here, e.g. Patagonia. Ranchers have a social structure to measure success by too. Yet there are outliers here too, think of the rancher that just cares about how heavy the cow is because the product is just going to to an anonymous supply structure anyway. No one will know the meat was from them. This is very different than the ranch that sells to the high end grocer as organic

Thread six: As the cultures ambient demand for authenticity rises so also will the need for companies to be transparent with the community. If they don't the tools of what I like to call the digital porch will slowly force them to be more transparent if they like it or not. Intentional anonymity is going out of style. We're going back to the small town values. Most of us, because of technology and these social tools, can not love is geoagnostics. That means the community can be anywhere now. We're going to start acting small again.

Warren Ng

Interesting take on Seth Godin's Purple Cow and the premise there in.

Rather than removing the idea of what is remarkable from the thought, why not incorporate it?

Is that not design thinking?


Well, your ideas seems to be very perceptive and informative as well. I like you great thinking. Good.

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Plenty of good CEOs are bullies - the answer is to keep out of his way and if he lets rip at you, not to take it too personally.


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That's a sharp way of tihnikng about it.


Ah, i see. Well that's not too tkircy at all!"


Umm, are you really just giving this info out for nhoting?

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