Commentary

After Coolness, Mastery: Building Respect For A Brand

Go over to General Electric's Vine account today to see the latest savvy posting in their brilliant 6SecondScience project there. Anyone who has been following the brands leveraging Vine has seen the great work the company has been doing there, including the viral hit that created a kaleidoscopic effect from combining milk, food coloring and dish soap artfully in a dish.

Yesterday, the GE 6SecondScience was actually a sequel, or perhaps the first case of one Vine app alluding to an earlier one from a brand. This time they made trippy patterns in three dishes with the simple comment: “Sometimes Science is better when they do it bigger.”

Paul Marcum, global digital director marketing & programming, GE, was with us at the Mobile Insider Summit on Tuesday, discussing what GE is doing in this business of crafting clever mobile media that has no obvious ROI attached. Paul argued that the technologies now available on these devices and the distribution mechanisms they have established make the barrier to entry so low for brands to become credible publishers that it is hard not to try it. The risk to the brand is also low, he added. “There is an opportunity for brands to create content franchises.” In this case, for instance, it isn’t just a brand posting clever videos that get viral pickups, press mentions and overall good feelings about GE.

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But just on that basis, the program works. The GE Vine presence has over 45,000 followers now after scores of videos. Paul says they have gotten over 1.1 million impressions.

But the aim is more specific than that, and so are the tactics. They have a very specific story to tell involving 6SecondScience. They have created a series, a brand unto itself with but in expectations and an underlying brand message -- invention.

In fact, Paul said something that really resonated with me. “It isn’t about just being cool, but about showing mastery of a format as well.”

Mastery -- a powerful quality. For GE that mastery over format has an inherent branding impact. The act of making clever Vine videos demonstrates two of the company’s core values -- technical prowess and inventiveness. They are showing, not just telling.

But I wonder about this idea of mastery as something that brands communicate with the quality of their mobile programs. It begs the question of whether consumers are judging competence, creativity, polish, etc. as they follow brands venturing into these new platforms.

It also suggests another value -- respect. Of the many kinds of relationships and affinities that marketers like to describe between customers and brands, I wonder if respect is a value worth pursuing in its own right. So many brands chase after brand love as if it is even remotely realistic that most consumers even want to love a brand. Perhaps respecting that brand’s competence and mastery in its communications to the world is a more realistic and thus valuable goal. Who knows -- it may lead to us evaluating corporations and brands not just on the savvy of their social or mobile program, but how these companies actually behave.

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