On the possibilities of “open brands”

A few days ago, I posted about “open journalism” at The Guardian, and what it could mean for National Geographic.

Josh Stearns, Journalism and Public Media Campaign Director at Free Press

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.

{Thanks to Claire Sale of Netsquared, whose link a few weeks ago led me to Josh’s Storify.}

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