A Modest Proposal for Brand Colocation Fees

coke-a-colaIt is a common mantra in marketing that our brands live in the mind of the consumer. A recent television commercial for a major software brand quotes the Chief Marketing Officer of a major beverage brand saying

“Our brands are owned by the consumers who love them.”

Or as the Social Customer blog quotes:

You Don’t Own Your Brand – Your Customer Does
– Christopher F. Carfi, CEO of Cerado

Perhaps the first people to observe this are Ries and Trout in the book Positioning. That brands occupy a small space, a niche, a “creneau” as the French say, in your mind. The brands are in your brain and you can’t remove them. We can not remove Coke-a-ColaTM, MicrosoftTM, DisneyTM, GoogleTM, ExxonTM, SonyTM, NFLTM, The Super BowlTM, The Olympic GamesTM, etcTM, etcTM, etcTM from our minds even if we wanted to!

And brands, mine included, invest heavily to achieve this. To place our brand in your brain we use PR tactics and advertising. And to defend our brands against infringement or dilution. Now that we own a creneau in your brain we do not want someone else to come along and mess it up! That is OUR corner of YOUR brain. Don’t touch it.

You can NOT have a Super BowlTM party. That is a trademarked brand, albeit a government authorized monopoly functioning at the pleasure of the people represented. But that is another post.

If Chuck-E-CheeseTM starts offering Mickey MouseTM themed parties without paying Disney for use, they get sued.

That is a hypothetical of course but the point is that if one brand tries to access that portion of your brain encoded by another brand in your brain, then we have a legal battle of the brands. Fighting. Over a space. In your brain.

Disney and the NFL are fighting over a space in YOUR brain.

coke-a-cola-cupAnd who is paying YOU for the lease of the space in your brain? Who gave the Super Bowl brand-colocation rights in your brain? And if not, can you reasonably avoid the barrage of branding messages out there designed to write on that spot in your brain? Of course not.

So why aren’t you being paid a brand colocation fee, rent if you will, by brands that are occupying your brain? You are watching tennis with your kids in the room on TV and the GEICOTM advertisements places a freakin lizard and money with googely-eyes into your head. What’s in it for you?

Not much. You are just the real estate where brands live. And you get nothing for it.

Brand Colocation Fees: a Modest Brand Proposal

You should charge brands a fee to live in our brains. Lets think about it:

If the dude was sleeping on your couch for a day and then left, you call that a “favor for a friend” or a “minor inconvenience.” But if the dude MOVED INTO your house and stayed in that same spot in your house day after day, sooner or later you’d give him a bill for rent, right? So how is this different?

In fact the unwelcome-boarder analogy can be extended. Say that another vagrant shows up. The two proceed to fight over YOUR sofa in YOUR living room. Then if you mention either of them by name they SUE YOU! Yet aren’t THEY the interlopers? Have THEY not taken residence in YOUR living room? Aren’t they quite literally fighting over your sofa, disrupting you, in your house? Why do you put up with this?

Well I tell ya, in Texas, we don’t. No sir. We all have guns and drive pickup trucks and by golly we’ll chase them out screaming like Yosemite SamTM shooting at them as you run so far awaySM. By golly. Or we’ll charge them a fair rent. Either works. You gotta be flexible in a recession, right? So anyway.

The only reasonable conclusion is that a Brand-Colocation-Fee must be charged for the brand to “co-locate” in our brain.   A Brand-Colocation Fee (BCF) is the only fair solution to reconcile the years of free rent accumulated by these interlopers, these free riders, residing in and fighting over the sofas and man-chairs in our minds. Even that extra comfy chair your Dad always took when he got home from work. The brands want to sit in that chair too! It is only reasonable that brands must purchase the brain’s equivalent of the very fair and equitable NFL Personal Seat License (PSL).

And like a PSL is not a seat, just the rights to buy a seat, so too a BCF doesn’t guarantee a space in your brain, just the branding rights to that corner of your brain. If I have no need for a number-one-or-number-two creneau for aircraft engines, then you can ignore the brands anyway.

Hey, it’s YOUR BRAIN, right? RIGHT?

How to calculate the Brand-Colocation Fee

This of course brings us to three new challenges:

  1. How to calculate the appropriate BCF for a given brand and;
  2. how to collect the appropriate fees from a brand and;
  3. how to disburse the interlopers’ money to the brain-land-owners

First lets agree that the average consumer knows thousands of brands and has many many “positions” in her mind as a consumer. Each of these positions is unique and has one, maybe two brands, that occupy that space. Number one or number two.

Additionally brands are faced with a global marketplace and regional competitors. It is very confusing to track whose brain has recorded which brand. And so as not to be a burden to the brands, we humbly suggest that brand colocation fees should be modest on a per-person scale. But how do we manage this?

A Brand Colocation Fee Union (BCFU) to Manage BCF Collection and Disbursement

We need an efficient oversight committee to calculate and manage the collection of brand colocation fees. To take into account birth and death so Disney isn’t paying a BCF to a deceased account. Yet we, the brain holders, need equitable representation. We need in fact a Union to ensure our brain space is properly represented. But what do we call this Union? I propose a Brand Colocation Fee Union.

The Brand Colocation Fee Union, or BCFU for short, will manage the calculation and collection of brand colocation fees in a fair and equitable way for brands and the consumers alike.

Given this is a complex matter we further propose to put all of the Corrupt New York Bankers back to work creating brand lookup tables and more imaginary math to calculate a fair and equitable and defensible (and probably corrupt) set of rate tables.

The BCFU brand source tables should take into account factors including but not limited to:

  1. Some brands are welcome and I, as a consumer, will gladly waive the fee. Yes this means I am brain washed, but why else do open source advocates love the completely proprietary Apple brand? So sometimes the BCFU fee should be zero. We can sort the crazies using demographic data.
  2. Fees should be equitable and reasonable. Given the relatively low cost of many consumer products, say a Coke, an annual fee for even such a strong brand might only be one (1) US dollar per person per year (not consumer as even non-buyers carry the burden of the coke brand in their brain).
  3. Brands that insist on existing in our brains, but serve no purpose but to annoy, should be penalized! Just cause they bug us. Specifically brands should be penalized for advertising to the wrong demographic. Think “Head On” or “The Clapper” – two brands closely followed by Capital One, AFLAC and Geico for seriously-damn-annoying factor. These people should pay a reasonable person $10 per year.
  4. Political brands, as much as I hate to say it, should be exempt from BCFU fees when sending information for the service of their constituents. But should reasonably be charged a penalty for negative campaigning. After all, they are working to reposition a brand in your brain to a new position in YOUR BRAIN. Again, we leave this to the BCFU to calculate with their fancy economists.
  5. Crappy brands like Larry Flint or Girls Gone Wildthey owe me BIG. I want 1 million dollars per year for these stupid brands! But again, being a reasonable and represented person, I’ll defer to the wisdom of the unions when it comes to equitable brand taxation.

Next Steps in the Battle to Win Back Your Mind (or at least charge rent for the space)

To recap, given Brands exist in OUR BRAINS. we should charge a fair rent.

We propose to call that brand-rent a brand colocation fee (BCF). And, being American, we wish to outsource the hard part to a union called the Brand Colocation Fee Union (BCFU).

What are your thoughts? Which brands should pay the most? The least? Which politician or law firm can get this started for us? A brain-space space-race. Our new bureaucracy, the BCFU, surely wouldn’t let us down?

Nine Ways to Remember 9-11

A great re-post on Media Orchard’s blog – 9 ways to commemorate 9-11

  1. Fly an American flag.
  2. Take time to reflect on the loved ones you have lost during your lifetime.
  3. Treat people the way you did in the days immediately after the 9/11 attacks.
  4. Listen at least twice as much as you talk.
  5. Don’t watch the major cable news channels.
  6. Don’t listen to talk radio. Same reason.
  7. Don’t read political blogs. Ditto.

…ya, I left you hanging. The last two, 8 and 9, are great … click through to Media Orchard for them.

NYT on China and “Genocide Olympics” Progress


  John Prendergast on Darfur 
  Originally uploaded by eschipul.

Many of us went to see John Prendregast on Darfur with the Houston World Affairs Council. One of the strategies he mentioned was economic pressure on China because China strongly supports the Darfur government.

Specifically Prendergast mentioned an initiative called the “genocide Olympics“ which was an attempt to tie the next China Olympics to their complicity with the government of Darfur. It appears to be working. From the New York Times:

Darfur Collides With Olympics, and China Yields

WASHINGTON, April 12 “” For the past two years, China has protected the Sudanese
government as the United States and Britain have pushed for United
Nations Security Council
sanctions against Sudan for the violence in Darfur.

(full article on Genocide Olympics Progress with China)

Now this is China. So seeing the press in the US may make them reverse directions just as a show of power. But one can hope.

 

Education Ego Tension and Boundaries

The money quote on modern education:

… a small group of us came to the
realization that schools need to start serving the tension between
ego-centered, personalized, individualistic society and globalized
society. There used to be scales – people would be part of local
communities, broader communities, nation-states, etc. Networked society
is altering the relationships between people and communities are
suffering because of the lack of cohesion, social norms, etc. When we
think about education (especially when we talk about its role in
relation to civic life), we need to stop damning technology and start
engaging with the shifts that have occurred in the architecture of
sociality.

This is the first time I felt challenged to look at education from an ego-centered tension between personalized and globalized society. Interesting.

Of course the problem may be, not sure, buy may be serving tension between areas implies an awareness of the boundaries. And that isn’t easy.

On a related note, be sure to read CAE’s posts on the attention economy and organizations.