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Sunday, October 15

couchsurfing.com - Welcome to Concept Brands

I know this brand or shall I say concept for precisely 12 hours now. And I have already interacted with it 6 times! Have spent $25 online(it's significant for me as this is just my 2nd online payment!!). Emailed to an existing consumer/ experiencer/ concept buyer of this brand.

More on couchsurfing.com. It's a non-profit web based company. CouchSurfing.com helps you make connections worldwide. You can use the network to meet people and then go and live in other members' homes! When you surf a couch, you are a guest at someone's house. They will provide you with some sort of accommodation, a penthouse apartment or maybe a back yard to pitch your tent in. Stays can be as short as a cup of coffee, a night or two, or even a few months or more. When you offer your couch, you have complete control of who visits. The possibilities are endless and completely up to you.

At 8:25 am I did not know of this concept. At 8:30 am I first chanced upon the brand in the DNA( actually it was Shilpi). At 8:45, I hooked onto the internet and checked out the web-site. At 9:00, I had e-mailed Arvind Sengupta, an Indian who is living in Vienna for the past three years and a member of CS!

At 9:15 am, I was copying my 16-digit Visa code into the payment page. I willingly put $25 into the CS concept(brand). Equal to an years supply of soaps and detergents from HLL the trusted FMCG brand!

At about 1:30 pm, while surfing again, I edited by profile. The site asks you to answer some profound, meaningful questions. And not just how many credit cards you own and other bugging Qs. So, I filled my mission on life, what learning I have had till now and what I do to earn a living...The profile is still incomplete and I made a mental note of going back to couchsurfing.com later!

At, around 6:00 pm, I was being the couchsurfing.com spokesman with my friend Suman! I felt I knew it better than my 2 year old tooth-paste brand 'Meswak' and my 8 year old TV brand LG Golden Eye(maybe unfair comparisions, but nevertheless).

It reminded me of what John(Grrant) had written in hisOct 10 post. Post Modern brands being ideas not products and standing for something!

Back to 8:45pm, couchsurfing.com is important enought to be my day's post.

Stray thoughts then on concept brands.
1. They exist in the mind. They excite us and invite enthusiastic particpation as John says!
2. They don't have nationalities. Or manufacturing dates. Or expiry dates. Or packaging in the conventional sense.
3. If you buy into the concept. They can be trusted immediately. They grow exponentially and not sequentially. Unlike a bar of soap interacted sequentially through the monthly grocery list.
4. No fancy ads required. No ad agencies...
5. They have a conversational tone. There are people behind the brand not companies.
6. The core of the brand is a concept. Not a one-line chiselled, much debated proposition. No tag-lines needed either.
7. No company owns the brand. A community does.
8. You can belong to the brand and the brand belongs to you from day one. More importantly, you want to belong!
9. It doesn't preach you. You learn and preach and reach(out).
10. The brand makes you feel good. It expands you. You want to explore.

Interesting, how much I want to talk about this 12( well 12 and a half) hour old concept(brand).

Anais Nin had once said that 'When we blindly adopt a religion, a political system, a literary dogma, we become automatons. We cease to grow.' It's time now to think about brands not only through the narrow lens of product( largely FMCG) and service brands that we have worked with, read and internalised case studies. It's time to expand our world-view to include post modern concept brands!

In this new era, looks like we will have to unlearn all of what we learnt about brands! Exciting times ahead!


Divya Pratap said...

well I differ a bit here though I agree that today we have stareted taking cognizance of ideas and concepts far more than before, somewhere conceptually all iconic brands always were concepts than mere products. It was just marketing myopia that couldn't see the appeal, idea, human bond or whatever else name you give it. End of the day as humans we buy into a thought and the rest is just a vehicle. Cheers

Manish said...

some of the biggest brands that we have grown up with are products of millions of dollars of advertising, marketing and hype! They were/ are about image marketing. While there might be some concept hidden somewhere, fundamentally they are mere products and services! Concepts like google, hotmail, couchsurfing.com, amazon are totally new concepts, which the world had never seen or encountered before!

meraj said...

god is the biggest and the oldest concept brand...as far as i am concerned. many here may not agree on god being a 'concept' bit, so please dont start an arguement on this one.

meraj said...

and forgot to mention, it was a well written piece...the style was akin to a breezy thriller!

Manish said...

thanks meraj...yes we will not get into the discussions on God, etc. But guys - especially my ex-planner pooja, do write your comments...it's sort of lonely out here in blogosphere...I am losing steam( am I?), especially at the rate of a post a day...BTW today's post wud be my 50th!!...thought i wud write one called life at 50 LOL

Benn said...

As we say at TBWA, we have to stop thinking of people as consumers and engage them as audiences.
A lived brand experience is essential.

Hiren said...

Thanks for the link couchsufing.com.You have used the word "Stray thoughts" which happens to be the name of my blog on the link. That ia an eclectic blog but the other two happen to be based on ideas which are kind of concepts:-
Make your passion your profession
Cust-se-mar- Customer

How are they as concepts?