Sean Moffit & Mike Dover
McGraw Hill, 289 pages, $28.00

When it comes to marketing, the concept of ‘brand’ was a pretty consistent entity, in that it was the product of the company that owned and produced it. The look, feel, and quality were wholly controlled by the owner, and if that brand was managed properly, huge profits could be reaped, a la Coca Cola, McDonald's and Buckley's.

That, of course, is the old school reality. Fast forward to 2011, and authors Sean Moffit and Mike Dover describe the new reality of brands in their book, Wikibrands. According to Moffit amd Dover, “The litmus test for a thriving business in this marketplace is, “Does your brand deliver genuine participation?””


With media fragmentation and the ever expanding catalogue of channels, digital being the key culprit, the former business approach of utilizing mass advertising to build a brand -- that is to constantly bombard consumers with a consistent and controlled message -- is now defunct.

It is important to understand the magnitude of this shift, take for example the historical development of a mega brand like Coke.

“Coca-Cola corporate lore claims that if the company suddenly lost all of its physical assets, it could get funding to rebuild the entire enterprise using only the power of brand as collateral.”

While this may be true, chances are a brand born today could not achieve the same results without being put in the hands of its users, and modelled and evolved based on customer feedback and interaction. Facebook is a case in point.

The authors don’t have to stretch too far to demonstrate how effective this approach is, pointing out how companies like Starbucks have created dedicated platforms for their customers to contribute.

“Starbucks has more than 1 million Twitter followers, is ‘liked’ by more than 15 million on Facebook, and has attracted 100,000 user generated contributions to its site.”

Wikibrands has some tremendous research behind it, making this book more than just a tome of interesting case studies, but a call to action. As Moffit and Dover point out, “The choice is simple for brands, their owners, and key stake holders – open up to your audience and become much more engaged with customers, or risk being rendered irrelevant.”

– Craig Lund is the President Elect of the American Marketing Association’s Toronto Chapter and can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at

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