Read this interesting piece on 'Survival of Friendship' on the Edge.org site!
It led me thinking!
1. Friendship isn't dying out: it's just changing, adapting to the changes in the world. As a boy and as a young man or even 5 years back, there were not too many friends I had. I was a relatively quiet kind of guy. Self/work obsessed and quite boring. But the internet and the blogosphere is gradually changing that.
There are many more people that I open upto now. Hey, I feel I am reasonably extrovert in my virtual skin. It appears that the medium is changing my persona. After more than 3 decades, my buddy list is finally growing:-)
2. I today have friends whom I know only through e-mail/ chats who are as dear to me as my school friends; friends from my first job! And the funny thing is that geography and physical contact are not as important as I thought they would be!
3. This Edge piece also talks about - Throughout our lives we collect and store information about specific individuals, so that — just in case we ever run into them again — we will know how to act. We even store information about people we have never met and whose faces we have never seen.
However, when it comes to brands, I feel marketers and advertisers devote far too much time on consistency and repeating the boring facts everyone already knows. Whereas, if we want the friendship of people/ consumers, we must tell them, engage them with small tidbit about the brands. No coincidence that the best brands have a rich heritage and lots of small stories!
4. Many mobile service brands/ many brands(in general) in India talk about customer friendliness. But when they send their bill statements or the bill alerts or even supposedly personlised communication, the tone and voice are not that of a friend.
It's that of a self-obsessed manufacturer, an aggressive marketer or just a stiff uncaring voice!
Quite a few Indian brands have an impersonal voice(if they have a distinct one at all!!). I feel, they quickly need to loosen up in this new brand world! Because the eyeballs are:-)
5. Till the time we don't give up our obsession with war terms - target/ captive audience, capturing market share, etc., we will have a tough time making brand friends.
So it is ironical that while people are opening upto total strangers and making friends, brand friendship(at least in India) appears to be on the wane...Brand relationships are increasingly transaction-oriented despite the hype created by ads.
P.S. One notable exception in 2006 - the new age brand/concept 'Couchsurfing.com'
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