Google to Alphabet: smart move but not radical at all

First published in Marketing Magazine 11th August 2015

The move from Google to Alphabet is far from radical; it’s well trodden as a business model by FMCG giants like P&G and Unilever, argues Justin Basini, co-founder and CEO at ClearScore.

With the creation of a holding company called Alphabet they are starting to look more like a Procter & Gamble or Unilever

The blog post announcing the rebranding of the Google into Alphabet this morning has taken everyone a bit by surprise. The markets have generally reacted positively with a 5% rise in the stock with the normal commentary both good and bad. We should admire Larry, Sergey and Eric that for once, in our world of obsessive management of investor expectations they have actually managed to steal a march on the millions of eyes watching Google.

Tradtional and well proven model

Many commentators have hailed this as a “radical” restructure adopting a model akin to Berkshire Hathaway. However, from a brand management perspective the move is treading a traditional and well proven model. With the creation of a holding company called Alphabet they are starting to look more like a Procter & Gamble or Unilever: that is a holding company with a wide portfolio of businesses and brand assets. The manifest benefits of this approach that has served the packaged good behemoths for over 100 years will deliver undoubted benefit to Google going forward.

Nobody likes companies that are too powerful, witness the fall of Tesco as it sought to become ubiquitous and got out of control

There are consumer benefits. Nobody likes companies that are too powerful. Witness the fall of Tesco as it sought to become ubiquitous and got out of control. Imagine if the brands we buy from P&G were not Ariel, Fairy, Pantene, Pampers, Gilette, Max Factor, Oral-B, Duracell, Lenor, Clearblue, Vicks but all of them called Procter & Gamble? We would start to freak out that one company could be so pervasive and dominant in our lives. As Google has broadened their offerings from search to email, to office apps, to mobile phones, to laptops, to household control, to cars; all of these being linked very clearly to the Google name creates the same concerns and worries. Moving to a house of brands under Alphabet will help manage some of these risks and drive growth.

Privacy concerns will manifest at Alphabet

The establishment of lots of different brands potentially may make it considerably harder for us to all understand where our data and information is going

Next, whilst taking the brand benefit, the establishment of a central infrastructure for Alphabet with central management and resources will allow assets to be shared across the different businesses. It is in this sharing that I think the most concerns may arise. Collection and manipulation of data, often playing close to privacy concerns, is hard-wired into Google and will therefore manifest itself at Alphabet. The establishment of lots of different brands potentially may make it considerably harder for us to all understand where our data and information is going. If I use Google search is this going to be shared with my separately branded self-driving car or my central home control unit?

Google has struggled with transparency

I’d also bet that Twitter will be an Alphabet company in the next 12 months

Brand trust is built through transparency and openness. Google has struggled with this in the past and many people don’t trust the brand. This potentially becomes much more complex in a holding company structure. For perspective, the consumer packaged goods companies have wrestled with this as well. They know a huge amount about their consumers across different brands and have experimented with cross promotion by using this understanding at a holding brand level, exploring whether consumers want a direct relationship with the P&G or Unilever brand. Results have been very patchy – people tend to be more suspicious and wary, rather than welcoming. In our hearts we like products and brands that do one thing well, rather than interacting with huge mega-corporations that know rather too much about our habits for comfort.

Alphabet is an engineering company, not an ad business

The last reason why this strategic change shouldn’t surprise is that it is a natural fulfilment of the vision that Sergey Brin and Larry Page outlined 11 years ago when they founded the Google. They have always wanted Google to be an engineering company in the broadest sense. Google is now an information and advertising business. The move to establishing Alphabet allows them to build different competencies and leverage different structures to solve a broader set of problems. Given the astonishing rise of Google and the undoubted benefit that it has brought to the world and all of us in such a short space of time this could be really exciting.

I predict that the move to Alphabet will be successful and create value for shareholders, and hopefully the world. I’d also bet that Twitter will be an Alphabet company in the next 12 months!

HOT AIR OR REAL DELIVERY? THE NATWEST/RBS CUSTOMER CHARTER

This week Natwest and Royal Bank of Scotland rolled out their Customer Charter and lots of marketing in support. Full page ads in papers up and down the country. According to these adverts they are now making 14 commitments to help them become "Britain's most helpful bank". If you haven't seen the adverts (and before you click on the links in this blog) guess what these commitments are?

In the main it is the typical shopping list of customer friendly platitudes – we will be helpful, we will help you make the right choices, we are a responsible lender, we will resolve customer complaints fairly etc. Much of it is complete table-stakes – we will keep you safe online, we will provide a 24/7 telephone banking service, for example. Some of it is complete marketing spin such as "we intend" to have 600 branches open on Saturday by end of 2010 – for perspective Natwest/RBS have over 2,200 branches; and that 9 out 10 customers will rate our service as "helpful" (whatever that means).

Without being too cynical there are one or two interesting new ideas such as the community commitments which include staying open if they have "the last branch in town" (although this might create a perverse incentive for them to close down struggling branches sooner rather than later) and 25,000 financial education lessons (which again for perspective is only 0.0026 per child given there are 9.5m school children in the UK). More interesting is what has been left out.

Given that RBS/Natwest collapsed and was forcibly nationalised with taxpayers money by the UK Government in 2008 then wouldn't a commitment to financial stability and prudence have been appropriate? Given that the business failed because the money that was deposited by normal retail customers was used to build a balance sheet of around £1trn that funded risky investment banking wouldn't a commitment to managing risk more tightly been right?

And given the massive resources of this nationalised bank are the commitments to financial education really big enough? However, as I have argued on this blog before, the focus on banks at the moment should be on delivering a good, reliable service well rather than marketing and innovation (see Just How Special and Different are Financial Services Brands), in the end that is how trust will be re-established. Therefore many of the commitments are well made if they can be delivered.

So I decided to visit a few Natwest branches and talk to staff about the Charter and what it means to them. Of the three central London branches I visited none had any literature about the Charter even though all the adverts say that you can pick up a leaflet in branch. Chatting with staff I was greeted with the following comments:

"Yeah they told us about this last week, it's how they will improve the service"

"It's about serving people in 5 minutes"

and

"Dunno about that"

Searching the Twitter-verse this morning revealed an interesting series of #fail tweets from frustrated Natwest customers which might indicate that Natwest have a significant way to go on delivering their commitments.

This doesn't bode well and perhaps indicates that the timings of the marketing calendar trumped the roll out internally. This is a classic financial services marketing mistake.

Financial brands are built through experience and people. An employee that completely understands the experience they are supposed to deliver, and is supported by management and aligned incentives, is how these commitments will reach you and me. This is the really hard work of re-orienting and aligning people – this is where the focus should be rather than working with the ad agency. Without this the millions of pounds being spent on advertising this charter (and remember it is our money!) is mis-spent and will be more marketing spin that will make the lack of trust worse.

I wish Natwest/RBS luck with their commitments if they are one of the very few financial services brands and businesses that realise that the way they will win the loyalty, respect, trust and share of wallet of their customers is through creating employee advocates and excellence in actually delivering on their commitments rather than by advertising and marketing the hot air of what they intend to deliver in the future.

What do you think? Do you think this is a good initiative by Natwest and RBS? Do you trust them more given the 14 commitments? Are you a Natwest or RBS employee – what's your view of this campaign and the commitments? Any view – please leave a comment below.

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Justin

Mail me: justin@basini.com

My website and blog: http://www.basini.com/

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TWITTER TRANSPARENCY IN ACTION

This is why I love social media. The Evening Standard are leading this afternoon with the story of Stuart MacLennan the 24 year old parliamentary candidate for Labour in the Scottish constituency of Moray. MacLennan has tweeted in the past offensive and racist comments. He’s also tweeted about being drunk for days. Given he is 24 maybe this can be put down to a folly of yoof but thank goodness for the transparency of social media and Twitter specifically in allowing us to know that he holds these views and not waste a vote.

Anyone up for standing in Moray for Labour?

Justin Basini
Web: www.basini.com
Read my blog: www.blog.basini.com

Brands: if you want trust give trust


Brands and businesses always want to be trusted. But rarely do they trust their customers to understand how business works. This is why most organisations mission or values statements don’t include simple direct statements of what businesses are there, in part, to do which is make money. Businesses and corporations assume that we distrust them and therefore act defensively. In some cases, often the high profile ones, covered by the media, this default position of distrust is right but the vast majority of businesses, those that many of us work for, and employ our friends and family members, are full of good people trying to deliver well for their customers and make a fair profit in return, and money for themselves.

But most businesses, especially the big ones, are pathologically scared of saying anything that isn’t on message. And those messages are devoid of reality because they just don’t trust normal people to understand that running businesses is not easy, a balancing act and they have to make a return on their efforts. The cancer in these organisations are the public relations and corporate affairs departments that are obsessed with controlling the message, saying as little as possible, and where success is staying hidden.

In my experience most people are fair and reasonable. We understand that businesses need to make money, but we want them to give us good services and not exploit us for super-profitability. But most corporations treat us like we are cynical, conspiracy theorists or anti-business. And this has created a culture, especially in Britain, France and Germany, where making a profit is seen as inherently exploitative and almost immoral.

Witness John Petter from BT this morning (12th Feb 2010) on BBC Breakfast. Since BBC doesn’t replay Breakfast (can someone upload the interview to YouTube? YES ITS HERE) I’ll give a sense of the Tweets that were going round that summarise his performance:

jhemusinsignia: BT spokesman on BBC Breakfast was v.poor: why are people lacking the necessary skills put forward? Train them or use someone else
charlie74: BBC Breakfast presenter grilling the BT rep on TV… loved it
Tommy_Hill: Anyone else think the BT guy was seriously floundering on BBCBreakfast? “I don’t know if we’ll make money on it”.. Bulls**t
zenemu: #BT chap who was just on the BBC was a bit of a worm. BT are changing free evening calls from 6pm to 7. Odious little man from awful company
RAIPR: Wtchng John Petter, BT directr justify 7pm off-peak move on BBC. Nervy, defensive, dncng feet, looking away from cam, stuttering #fail
imogenfarr: Anyone see the BBC Breakfast interview with the squirming BTspokesperson? Blimey, he’d never have coped if he was interrogated by Paxman.



There is no doubt that his performance this morning was very poor but I suspect rather than being a consequence of not enough media training, it was caused by too much media training. Having been through several versions of this torture myself these sessions are focused on Corporate Affairs/Public Relations/Media people drilling you. “Don’t say this, say that”, “don’t answer questions directly” and most importantly don’t tell the truth. Don’t lie, don’t tell the truth, better to not say anything at all.

This goes right to the heart of the way that businesses present themselves currently. There is no longer a recognition, a trust, that we understand how businesses work. Read the mission and values of BT (taken from their website this morning):


Our vision

Our vision is to be dedicated to helping customers thrive in a changing world. The world we live in and the way we communicate are changing, and we believe in progress, growth and possibility. We want to help all our customers make their lives and businesses better with products and services that are tailored to their needs and easy to use.
This means getting ever closer to customers, understanding their lifestyles and their businesses, and establishing long-term relationships with them.
We’re passionate about customers and are working to meet the needs they have today and innovating to meet the needs they will have tomorrow.

Our values

Our corporate identity defines the kind of company we are now and the one we need to be in the future.
Central to that identity is a commitment to create ways to help customers thrive in a changing world. To do this we must live our brand values:
  • Trustworthy – we do what we say we will
  • Helpful – we work as one team
  • Inspiring – we create new possibilities
  • Straightforward – we make things clear
  • Heart – we believe in what we do
We are committed to contributing positively to society and to a sustainable future. This is part of the heart of BT.”

I can guarantee that John Petter and his boss Gavin Patterson spend most of their time obsessing about how they can organise their business to make money, grow and be cost efficient, whilst giving a good service. That’s what they get rewarded for. And yet making a fair return, making money for themselves and their employees, is no where to be seen in the mission and values of BT. These vision, mission and values statements have become divorced from reality, and its not just BT that suffer this problem.

Every business person that goes through a media training torture session comes out scared to death of saying anything, and is certainly left with the impression that having an open conversation about working hard to deliver value whilst making money is completely “off message”.

That’s what you could hear this morning from Mr Petter. His message was “buy unlimited packages” and he automaton-like repeated this time and time again. Charlie Stayt asked for a commitment from him that the prices would always be better value now and in the future, something which was impossible to answer on the couch in a studio. But instead of calmly responding, as Mr Petter might in a normal conversation with you or me, that BT always wanted to be good value, but that these decisions needed to be properly planned his only reply was “buy unlimited packages”. He thereby demonstrated that he didn’t trust those listening to his interview to conclude that he was a reasonable man with a reasonable approach and, yep, these things generally needed to be thought about.

Even when Susannah Reid asked him directly why he didn’t just explain that giving customers free calls meant that they didn’t make enough money, he wasn’t brave or trusting enough, to agree and admit that giving a good service and making a fair profit was what they were trying to do. All he could say was “buy unlimited packages”.

I felt sorry for John Petter this morning, a classic victim of media training where the goal is to say nothing, and a corporate and cultural context where trusting people to understand that businesses are there to try and give good services that we all need, and make a fair profit in return, is unacceptable.

Unfortunately until brands and businesses start to wake up to the fact that trust is a two way relationship, they will never win our trust.

Did you see the interview this morning. What do you think?
Do you work for BT? How did you feel?
Have you been media trained? What is your experience?

Please comment below and share with others using the social media icons.

Thanks – have a lovely, non-business, non-brand, non-marketing weekend and Valentine’s day.

Justin

Mail me: justin@basini.com
My website: http://www.basini.com/
Read my blog: http://www.blog.basini.com/
Follow me: www.twitter.com/justinbasini

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IS TWITTER IN TROUBLE?

Interesting chart on Twitter uptake – is the deluge of new users slowing to a torrent?

Justin Basini
Web: www.basini.com
Read my blog: www.blog.basini.com


From: SAI Chart Of The Day <newsletter@businessinsider.com>
Date: Wed, 2 Dec 2009 22:40:53 +0000 (UTC)
Subject: Is Twitter In Trouble?

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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Is Twitter In Trouble?

New users aren’t signing up for Twitter like they used to, according to numbers provided to WebProNews by a developer with access to Twitter’s API.

9.4 million users tweeted for the first time in July, and that monthly total has only declined in the four months since.

Keep in mind, though, that while the month-over-month numbers don’t look great, Twitter is still growing at a much faster pace at the end of 2009 than it was in the beginning.  7.1 million new users tweeted in November 2009, whereas only 1.3 million people joined the service in January.

And, to be fair, Twitter’s growth numbers spiked like crazy when Oprah joined the site in the spring, and again when the world media began calling Iran’s revolt the “Twitter Revolution.” It’s unrealistic to expect those kinds of surges to sustain themselves.

Still, we’re sure the investors who made Twitter a $1 billion company only a couple a months ago aren’t happy to see the site’s growth losing steam for four months straight.

(One way Twitter could fix the problem? Do a much better job of explaining to new users how the thing works.) Read >

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The different role of social networks Facebook v. Twitter

You can now listen to this blog as a slidecast going through the model and data. Click play below. Or you can just read the text below.

There’s been a lot written recently on some of the changes which Facebook have introduced to try and stave off the threat from Twitter. We all know that Facebook tried to buy Twitter in November last year and were rejected – so we know that Facebook is interested in micro-blogging and are pushing their status updates functionality.

This prompted me to think a little more deeply about the differences between Twitter and Facebook in terms of type of network built and communications employed. This leads me to believe that Twitter and Facebook (in their current forms) occupy different spaces and can co-exist quite happily.

The following diagram illustrates some of the differences between the major social networks in my mind based on the intimacy, time, numbers and purpose of relationships in a person’s life.

At the core of of our relationship map are deep, loving relationships with close family. Then comes our relationships with wider family and friends. After this are community relationships and relationships with our colleagues. Then we get into the areas where social networks have really had a major impact: previous or infrequent friends and contacts and even people we will never meet in the real world.

Facebook is perfectly positioned to fill the needs of interest and connectedness with a wider circle of friends we used to know or don’t see frequently. Of course it still has relevance for closer relationships but the new thing it adds is an unrivalled ability to stay in touch with a wider group of people that you have probably known in the real world. It’s optimised for this purpose through features such as approval of friends, having “on platform” media rich options (photos, videos etc), allowing detailed status updates.

Twitter is different to Facebook because it extends the social networking phenomenon into a new territory of those that you probably don’t know or haven’t known in the real world and is optimised for fast communications. It fulfils the need of curiosity on a broader scale – following famous people, or thought leaders, or organisations is interesting and engaging. In Twitter you can follow anyone and anyone can follow you – no need for approvals. Because of this there is no real responsibility to your network of followers – as I have put it before Twitter is take it or leave it communication. Of course many of us (including me, @justinbasini!) try to share interesting updates but there is no expectation which there is more of in Facebook.

LinkedIn is a good example of a vertically focused social network focused on business contacts. It bridges between work relationships past and present, together with people you want to build relationships with in the real world for business or career success.

I think the usage numbers bear out the fact that Facebook and Twitter are used to serve different needs:

Time spent per user on Facebook is much longer than Twitter but Twitter has many more visits per month. This fits with a usage pattern that is less involved and more frequent. I also think the average number of connections is interesting. On average Facebook users have 130 friends. Social theory holds that groups of 100 to 150 are the most relationships that one individual can meaningfully hold. I suspect that this will grow as we get more comfortable with technology based contact but I don’t think this average will ever be 1000s.

Now clearly at the moment the number of Twitter followers on average is low at around 20. But what I think is interesting is that if you take the top 10% of Twitter users (who we could call the early adopters and might be indicative of future usage) their number of followers on average is 483 and it is increasing fast. I think the average number of followers on Twitter could well be 1000s in the future. This definitely means it will be a different sort of network to that which one has on Facebook and potentially very exciting since you could use it to get an insight into many more different people around the world.

As always PLEASE feel free to comment with your views and share with others who you think might find this blog interesting. Oh and please follow me on Twitter (@justinbasini).

Yours

Justin

justin@basini.com
http://www.basini.com/
justinbasini.blogspot.com
www.twitter.com/justinbasini

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5 Reasons why Twitter is the next evolution in the democratisation of communication

As many of my friends and family will attest I am a dedicated supporter and active user of Twitter. If I needed any more excuses to use my Blackberry, Twitter has given them to me. Lots has been written about the Twitter phenomenon but I wanted to share why I think Twitter has a really good chance to be a communication channel of long-standing and power.

1. Twitter is the first “feed” of interesting Internet information and opinion that can be accessed with no technical expertise at all. Since using Twitter I am now learning and consuming much more insight from the web. Blogs, articles, comments, stats have all opened up to me since using Twitter. Following a Guy Kawasaki (@guykawasaki) or a Mashable (@mashable) (even if you follow no one else) is a brilliant source of some of the best the web can offer. Add in a Jonty Fisher (@jontyfisher) or a Dan Schawbel (@danschawbel) and you are building a pretty powerful set of insight about marketing and branding (my field). I don’t think I am a Luddite but I could never really get RSS feeds and such like to really work – Twitter users aggregate, edit, filter and share better than any technology.

2. Twitter is entirely non-hierarchical and democratic. Everyone is open to everyone (you can limit updates to only those that you select but not many people do this). I’ve had tweets replied to from Lily Allen (@lilyroseallen) and even got a reply from the great Guy Kawasaki (@guykawasaki). To give you an example last week I was watching BBC Breakfast News watching a really good segment by Ray Snoddy (@raymondsnoddy) on media and advertising. I idly (and somewhat cheekily) tweeted that Ray looked like he was wearing a wig. Within a few hours the tweet had reached him and I had a good humoured reply from the great man. This form of communication is powerful – I don’t need to search for his email address – or write him a letter – I am in touch with him because of the network in which we particpate. This democratisation of communication can be a powerful way to open up those in power whatever field they are in.

3. Twitter can give you insight into the lives of others. For example I follow my local MP and now the Minister for Transport Sadiq Khan (@sadiqkhan). Sadiq is a great example of a politician that is using Twitter to inform the man on the street (i.e. me) about what he is doing and the things he thinks are important. Throughout all this furore over MPs expenses and trust I’ve been really heartened to see Sadiq tweeting about what he thinks and sharing what he is doing. He works really hard (and seemingly all the time at this event or another) and I’m glad that I know this – it builds my trust in him.

4. Twitter can give many moments of pleasure connecting with real world friends across the world. When I first heard of Twitter I thought that knowing that Jon was eating a sandwich in Montreal would be an irrelevance and a waste of time. But actually now that I use Twitter one of the most powerful emotional benefits is knowing that my friend Tobias (@implant_direct) is enjoying a party in Zurich or Tom Farrand (@tomfarrand) has just had a great time kite surfing on the South Coast. These are vicarious moments of joy through Twitter that I wouldn’t have otherwise.

5. Twitter is take it or leave it communication. Lastly one of best things about Twitter, different from almost all other modes of communication, is that Twitter can be picked up or put down at will. A tweet, a direct message or a reply doesn’t need to be responded to instantaneously but it can be. That’s one of the best things about the channel – its so flexible. If you don’t want to tweet for a few days no one is going to accuse you of ignoring their voicemail, email or letter.

Twitter adds a lot to my life and I think it is a powerful new form of communication that has a lot of potential. So if you are a confirmed member of the Twit-sphere good for you; and if you are thinking of taking the plunge go for it.

As always please feel free to comment, share, RT, agree or disagree. Also follow me on twitter!

All the best,

Justin

www.basini.com
justinbasini.blogspot.com
www.twitter.com/justinbasini

Across the trenches – how the First World War created communities of trust

Men going “over the top” from a trench in the First World War

Imagine you are in the trenches of the First World War. It’s muddy, dank and dark. It’s raining all the time and you are never dry. The rations are meagre. Your day starts and ends with the boom, boom, boom of enemy shelling. Some compatriots are being driven mad by the constant pressure, threat and thud, thud, thud of the shells; others are suffering from trench foot, the rotting of the feet over exposed to water. Danger is ever present either through enemy attack or the lunacy of commanders sitting miles behind the front line. The order to “go over the top” running headlong into machine gun fire and shelling could come at any time. When commanders come to inspect the trenches they are remote and clearly not in touch with the realities of your situation; maybe they need to maintain a certain remoteness in order that they can signal the orders that might cause your death.

In this madness you look for any and all survival strategies; you look for anybody or anything that can help to alleviate the grim reality and secure a modicum of safety. As you look over to the enemy trench you catch a glimpse of the men you are fighting. They look somewhat similar to you, they are the same age, they look just as tired and fed-up as you do. They repair their trenches, clean their guns, they shell your lines but they also laugh, they eat, they watch, they do the same things you do day-in, day-out. And as the days and weeks go past you begin to realise they are just men like you, longing to see far away family and children, and dreaming of a homecoming.

And over time you realise that the shells that you put into the artillery everyday are now slightly missing their mark, and you don’t correct them. The next day you notice that their shells are now slightly off the mark and they don’t seem to correct them either. And this becomes the status quo, shells fired and missing, day after day, adding to the futility but contributing security. Then a friend of yours dares to go out behind your line and openly stand up in plain view of the enemy, walking around and then sitting reading a book. No action is taken by the opposite trench. The next morning you see one of their soldiers walking around, you momentarily reach for your gun, but then pause and stop, you take no action. Whilst unwritten and unspoken there is now an agreement across the trenches to act for the greater good of the community – the community of men living under mortal threat sitting in wet, muddy, holes in the ground – a community that is much more real and important than the command structure of the army for which you serve. Sympathy and trust in the common good of the mutually accepted futility of the reality of war creates and maintains a status quo that delivers a modicum of security and fraternal feeling even amongst “enemies”.

I came across the source for this story in Marek Kohn’s fascinating book Trust – Self Interest and the Common Good. He goes into more detail about how these informal arrangements of trust across enemy lines grew up and his book is well worth reading.

Lucian Camp, the advertising, brand and marketing guru (http://www.luciancampconsulting.com/) is fond of saying that trust broke down irrevocably in the First World War as millions of men were sent to their death by commanders who used outmoded and futile strategies seemingly with little regard for human life. Lucian wrote a great blog on Trust. If you agree that the collapse of hierarchy and the established social “order of things”, especially in Britain pre 1914, started during the First World War, maybe this story of trust across the trenches illustrates a move to trust in a more immediate community that is easier to judge and seemingly more important on an individual, real time basis.

We read and hear a lot Web 2.0 and word-of-mouth / peer to peer interactions being powerful marketing and communications tools all facilitated by new forms of internet based communications such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Friendfeed. And whilst undoubtedly true that the pace of change has increased with technology, there has been a fundamental cultural shift happening over the past 100 years from looking upwards trusting in hierarchy to trusting in each other and our community (however one defines this for oneself).

What I think this story demonstrates is that “communities” can be built around important topics or situations without the need for overall alignment on goals – you can support green issues whilst also driving a 4×4 or be a Tweeter whilst not conforming to the 12-18 stereotype. People are inherently a complex mass of differing opinions, prejudices and competing priorities – most segmentation efforts miss this. Also I think it demonstrates that channels of communication go way beyond the obvious and explicit. There are powerful insights to be discovered by analysing the more subtle signals in what we don’t do, as much as in what we do. What does it say about me that my blog is about marketing (my profession) and my Tweets tend to be either happy or professional – what am I not sharing? – and what does this say about me and what I need?

Clearly across the world there is a need to build trust across divided communities. Communications technologies have a powerful role to play in bringing together people who may have opposing goals in a explicit or implicit dialogue for the greater good.
Would love to hear your thoughts on this story, these trends and what you think – please feel free to share, follow and comment.

Justin

http://www.basini.com/
justinbasini.blogspot.com
www.twitter.com/justinbasini

RT @tomfarrand What will be the biggest trend in marketing in the next 3 years?

For those of you that follow me on twitter (@justinbasini or http://www.blogger.com/www.twitter.com/justinbasini) or follow Tom Farrand (@tomfarrand or http://www.blogger.com/www.twitter.com/tomfarrand) you may have noticed Tom’s question about the biggest trends in marketing in the next three years.

This made me reflect. I like the question because of its relatively short term nature which is especially pertinent given the macro economic environment we are in.

Dominic Grounsell (@domgrounsell or http://www.blogger.com/www.twitter.com/domgrounsell) suggested technology and thrift which I agree with. The transparency and access that the information age has given rise to will continue to change the rules of the game. The move from push to pull to interconnected collaboration will continue apace.

And thrift will be an ongoing zeitgeist.

What I believe is that we are at a turning point that will pivot around how long the recession lasts. If we see a relatively rapid recovery, say towards the first half of 2010, and unemployment peaks at around 3m then I think we may we’ll return to a modified version of the previous system but with less excess and more regulation.

If we go through a more prolonged recession, say until end 2010, with unemployment peaking at around 3.5m, then I could imagine more significant change with a rebalancing of the economy away from financial services and more social unrest. The leaders of businesses and our politicians will come under intense pressure to drive sustained change, raise taxes for the rich, submit to increasing regulation, all in the context of decreasing trust and perceived incompetence.

Now the most interesting scenario, with potentially massive positive benefits and undoubtedly devastating affects would be a really deep recession lasting into 2011 with unemployment peaking over 4m. I think this scenario has the potential to cause massive change in our system because of the social upheaval (at all levels) that this will cause and the increasing acute perception of the “haves” and “have nots” leaving us with a feeling that the economic system is fundamentally broken.

This will require new leadership to emerge. Potentially the US have found their change agent in President Obama. We need a new political force to arise that can drive change and restore hope. This will be a burning platform if over 10% of the working population are unemployed, house prices don’t recover, deflation starts and businesses find it hard to compete.

It will require businesses to change and adapt to increased levels of consumer activism’ increasing defaulting and money flow as the system deleverages and the continued rise of suspicion and the rising belief that making profit is bad or only feathers the nest of the “fat cats”.

Many of these changes, ironically, will be good in the long term especially if a new, more balanced approach emerges. However I’m definitely not rooting for a prolonged recession – the collateral damage on individuals and families is too great.

My prediction for what it is worth is that we will land somewhere between scenario 2 and 3 with recovery starting end 2010 and unemployment peaking at around 4m. What I do hope is that the seeds can be planted both in our leaders and in our economy that will grow into a more balanced, more holistic approach that puts well being at its heart rather than fear and greed.

As always feel free to comment.

Justin

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