The Real-Time Brand

As I write this, it is kickoff time for the Super Bowl, an event that galvanizes people as much as Bill O'Reilly does on a day to day basis. The Super Bowl is a brand, and while millions watch it, millions refuse to watch it, and hundreds of thousands are forced to watch it because the ads are really interesting. Bill O'Reilly, he of Fox News, another galvanizing brand, meanwhile finished a pre-game interview with President Obama, yet another galvanizing figure in the global culture, although I'm sure his brand score is significantly higher.

It's clear that if you're not part of a galvanizing event you or your company is probably heading toward irrelevance in some capacity. It may take 10 years, or it may take one. But it's going to happen. The reality of this statement will lead to scathing attacks, retorts, and baseless opinions as people fight to be the next Glenn Beck and companies fight to be the next Apple.

Unless there is a self-correcting force at play.

In the old days, there was Robert's Rules of Order. But clearly order has become irrelevant, as evidenced by the blank stares shot back at me when I mention it. As the new world galvanization phenomenon intersects with the old world rules, chaos develops. That's why we see what some might call a breakdown in societal communications in advertisements, in rhetoric, and in day-to-day discussions. 

But self-correcting behavior is on the rise. We now have real-time, and real-time is the new Rules of Order. Real-time brings order to the angst. For example, using old metrics, no one knows if they are in danger of losing their brand awareness. It's counter-intuitive. The more information that's out there, the more data that people don't understand. Myopia develops and internal analysts see that their direction is the right direction but it is in comparison to .. what?

With a real-time stream, the discourse is far more rapid. We can intuit whether a brand is gaining or losing awareness. We can see how companies come and go much faster, and that intuition accurately predicts the success of a brand, or its failure. It's Facebook versus MySpace; it is the rise of the iPad, it is the iPhone.

Companies without the real-time vision, however, are much slower on the prowl. They need to take the real-time stream and convert it into standard metrics. That's where a company called NetBase comes in. Scoble covered it in a video last year. NetBase uncovers consumer passion levels for  brands as expressed in social media – their tools help companies do online ethnographies or “netnographies”.  These brands fall across the board - Gap, Starbucks, Weight Watchers, Virgin Airlines, etc.

But I wanted to research two different trends. One were the Super Bowl teams - the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers. The other were companies being intersected by the real-time stream, aka Twitter. The two are inextricably tied, albeit perhaps not in this post.

For the Packers and Steelers, I was curious to see how these two ancient teams fared. The Packers were the last of the small-town team, named after the founder's employer, the Indian Packing Company. The Steelers founded a good 14 years later but are still the 5th oldest team in the NFL. Their owner is well known and very respected. The Packers had Lombardi - the name of the Super Bowl trophy. In other words, these teams existed well before real-time but are playing for the real-time crown.

So let's look at the NetBase brand analysis:

BPI Graph Super Bowl R1
What the chart shows is that the Steelers (bigger bubble) have more chatter; the Packers less so. But the Steelers have more haters than lovers, and each camp is very passionate (shown by how far to the right the Steelers are in the chart). This culture probably created in the days of Mean Joe Greene, who was way ahead of his time, but it could be a result of human resource issues with the team's quarterback. The Packers meanwhile are far better liked but less passionately so. They are liked, the way people like Wisconsin cheese better than California cheese. They like it, but they won't die for it.

You can see the underlying results for the Steelers here and draw your own conclusions:

Steelers sentiment

One more chart to show is NetBase's impact score for Twitter and Facebook, Microsoft and Google. I'll get to the details of that in my next blog.

The real-time brand is here.

BPI Graph High Tech#130B5F9