A few days ago, I posted about “open journalism” at The Guardian, and what it could mean for National Geographic.
Today, I’d like to share some thoughts about “open brands” via a Storify by Josh Stearns, who is the Journalism and Public Media Campaign Director at Free Press. Until I saw Josh’s Storify (embedded, below), I was unaware of the term “open brand,” but I like it, partly because it captures what I’ve long believed should be a keystone to National Geographic’s future: Our Society’s infrastructure should serve as a catalyst for its members to create a real, not just a virtual, community. (See: “A Place Where Everybody Knows Your Name”)
Or, in Josh’s words: open brands leverage “the best of online tools to connect people locally on the ground, face to face.”
Open brands are also a response to what’s now the conventional wisdom in marketing: companies can no longer unilaterally define their brand identity. In a networked world, everyone is part of the proverbial “conversation.” See, for example, the recent online uprising against Diggers, a new series on the National Geographic Channel (which is owned by News Corp). Professional archaeologists, who are appalled by what’s happening under the National Geographic banner, now have a powerful way to voice their displeasure, to organize, to petition, to call for change — and to shape the public’s perception of the National Geographic Society.
“Open.” That’s a good word for a free and democratic society. It could be a good word for our Society, too.